Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 31

The Daily Numbers: 3 new charges filed against Drexel Hill teen Mia Sardella in the death of her newborn baby. None of them are first-degree murder. That and other more serious charges were withdrawn last week by the D.A.’s office.

163,355 dollars raised by Democrat David Landau in his bid for county council. It is believed to be the largest amount a Democrat has ever raised in a council race.

16, age of Chester High student held for trial in the shooting of a fellow student, even though the victim could not identify him at a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

6 candidates seeking fives seats on the troubled Penn-Delco School Board in next Tuesday’s election. One of them, John Green, recently was charged with a felony count of ethics violations.

24, age of Andy Reid’s oldest son Garrett, who is back in jail this morning after failing another drug test. Both he and his younger brother Britt, who is also in the Mongomery County Prison, are due in court Thursday to be sentenced for incidents involving cars and drugs.

4 people shot, including a Philadelphia police offficer, by a suspect who then jumped into the Schuylkill River. A body was pulled from the river early this morning. No word yet on whether it is the shooter. The officer’s injuries are not life-threatening.

40 percent less, that’s what a high school dropout in Pennsylvania can expect to make over their lifetime than those who get a high school diploma.

3 million dollars less than what he needs to staff casinos, which is why Pa. State Police Commissioner Jeffery Miller says he will no longer be able to offer 24-hour coverage at the slots parlors.

14 years old, age of youth struck and killed by hit-run driver in Middletown, Bucks County. A 48-year-old man with a previous DUI offense has been charged.

2 Kutztown University football players suspended from the team after they were charged with assault after a street altercation.

54 percent of those who responded to a recent poll who believe the sale of beer in supermarkets would result in an increase in underage drinking.

2.83 average price for gas in the Philadelphia region. That’s another increase, up 2 cents.

0 goals for the Radnor boys soccer team as they fell to Kennett, 3-0.

22 wins for the Villanova men’s basketball team last year. They will look to better that mark as they set their sights on another season, which kicks off on Nov. 6.

2 wins last year for the Eagles against the hated Cowboys, who will visit the Linc Sunday night for a prime-time matchup.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The NBA season kicked off last night. The Sixers open on the road tonight. Does anyone care?

I Don’t Get It: Here we go again. A 17-year-old student carrying a BB gun forced two Montgomery County schools into lockdown yesterday. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Maybe it’s good the Eagles play the Cowboys this week. Maybe that will help keep Andy Reid’s problems at home. Two of his sons are in jail. They will be sentenced for various offenses tomorrow. Give the guy credit. He’s a better man than I am if he can focus on coaching with all this tumult going on around him.

Quote Box: "My goal is to focus on the children and taxpayers of this school district and give them the best service possible."
-- Carol Cannon, a Democrat seeking re-election to the troubled Penn-Delco School Board.

3 versions of justice

Mia Sardella was back in court yesterday.

Surrounded by family and friends, the Drexel Hill teen was arraigned on lesser charges stemming from the death of her newborn infant last New Year’s Day.

She pleaded not guilty to third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.

Then she went home. Or at least back to the home of her grandfather, investment banker Albert Piscopo, head of the Glenmede Trust investment firm. She remains on a home- monitoring device, even though the more serious charges of first-degree murder were withdrawn by the district attorney’s office last week.

Meanwhile, Jahmir Ricks remains on monitoring as well. Only the 14-year-old Lansdowne teen is being monitored while sitting in a jail cell in Delaware County Prison. He has been behind bars since being charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his older brother inside their Lansdowne home last July. They apparently argued over a video game.

Ricks also was in court this week. He was held for trial on first-degree murder charges as an adult, despite his statement that he was acting in self-defense. His lawyer is seeking to have the case moved to the juvenile justice system, and also to have bail set for his client. In the meantime, the 14-year-old sits inside Delco’s prison.

Sean O’Neill also is being monitored. The 18-year-old is serving time at he George Junior Republic juvenile detention center. He is due to serve nine to 12 months.

O’Neill originally was charged as an adult in the fatal shooting of a friend and fellow Cardinal O’Hara student after a night of drinking at his parents’ Willistown Township home, on the border with Delaware County.

He also was originally charged as an adult with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting. He was freed on bail a few days after being charged. A Chester County judge later moved the case to juvenile court. Eventually, O’Neill was adjudicated delinquent on charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, illegal possession of a firearm and criminal mischief. The judge sent him to the juvenile facility.

Three cases, all three resulting in death.

But only one suspect remains in an adult prison, charged with first-degree murder. That would be Jahmir Ricks, who just turned 14.
I’m sure there’s a compelling legal argument as to the differences in these three cases and the way they were handled.

There also is an argument to be made that it is a perfect example of the different versions of justice that are handed out just about every day.

Actually, there really are not two different justice systems in our society, as many would argue. There are, however, a wide range of variances within that system.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that probably has not followed the case of Jahmir Ricks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 people killed in a horrific crash Monday night in Newark, Del. Initial appearances indicate this is another case of young drivers and speed.

1 person killed when a pedestrian was struck on the Roosevelt Boulevard near Cottman Avenue this morning.

14, age of Jahmir Ricks of Lansdowne, who remains in Delaware County Prison charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his older brother, allegedly after arguing over a video game.

19, age of Mia Sardella, who saw the first-degree murder charge against her in connection with the death of her newborn baby withdrawn by the D.A.’s office.

2 candidates who will appear on the ballot for Penn-Delco School Board, although they are no longer running. One of them was charged with a felony ethics violation.

16 to 60 months in the slammer for a former Boy Scout leader from Montgomery County who is HIV-positive and who was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old boy.

20 employees of the Philadelphia Parking Authority who earn more than $20,000 a year. Gov. Ed Rendell is now seeking a state audit of the agency.

46, age of slain Philadelhia Officer Gary Skerski, who was murdered after he responded to a report of a robbery in progress in May of last year. The man charged, who once lived in Darby, today is expected to plead guilty in the case.

5.50 a pound, what brewers are now paying for hops. That’s expected to soar to $18-20 a pound. Guess who’s going to pick up the tab for the increased cost? Yep, we’ll be crying in our beer.

2.81 a gallon, what we’re now paying for gasoline in the Philadelphia area. That’s the highest prices since the summer.

10 starts made by Eagles linebacker Matt McCoy last year. Yesterday he was released the day after taking a bad penalty in which he nailed the Vikings’ punter with a late hit.

3 goals for Archbishop Carroll girls, which allowed them to take the Catholic League field hockey crown over Cardinal O’Hara.

0 goals for the Strath Haven girls as their dream of a field hockey crown ended.

37 points put up by the Strath Haven football team last night, as they held on for a 37-29 win over Conestoga.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
When exactly did they breathe all this new life into Brett Favre. He did his magic on Monday Night Football against last night, and just like that, the Packers are 6-1.

I Don’t Get It: A woman was busted in New Jersey on a burglary rap. And police say she had an accomplice. They say it was her 15-year-old daughter. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos this morning for Sharon Hill native Archbishop John P. Foley. Not only is he being elevated to cardinal in the Roman Catholic church, he also will be inducted into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in January.

Quote Box: "So I hit him in self-defense and I used the knife."
-- 13-year-old Jahmir Ricks, in the statement used against him at his preliminary hearing, describing the events that led to the death of his older brother.

A tale of two cases

Mia Sardella is 19.
Jahmir Ricks is 14.

That’s about where the similarities end.

Oh, except this one other thing. Both at one time were charged with first-degree murder.

Sardella is the Drexel Hill teen mom who was charged after a baby was discovered in the trunk of her mother’s car. Police believe she gave birth in a bathroom in the basement of her mother’s home.

Several days later, her mother discovered the baby’s remains stuffed in a duffel bag in her VW Beetle. She called her father. He in turn called a lawyer. Weeks went by without any charges being filed in the case.

Sardella was free the entire time.

Sardella is believed to have given birth on New Year’s Day. Days went by before the baby was discovered. Almost five months later, the district attorney weighed in, filing first-degree murder charges against the young woman.

Sardella spent a night in jail, before being released on home monitoring. She is living in her grandfather’s house.

Tensions ran high in the interim. There was no shortage of those wondering what was taking so long and if Sardella’s status, and her wealthy grandfather, a high-profile Philadelphia investment banker, had something to do with the delay in her case.

Among those wondering just that was Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, who made it clear he believed that there were two systems of justice at play, one for those who can afford a certain brand of justice, another for those who can’t.

Eventually, Delco Judge Patricia Jenkins issued a gag order in the case to halt the heated rhetoric surrounding the incident.

Meanwhile, a few miles away in Lansdowne, in mid-July Ricks was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly fatally plunging a steak knife into his older brother’s chest. Police believe the two argued when the older brother refused to turn over a video game controller after losing a game to his younger brother. An argument ensued, with deadly results.

Ricks was arrested the same day. He was charged as an adult with first-degree murder. He has been in Delaware County Prison ever since, despite the efforts of his attorney, who has been trying to get the case sent to the juvenile justice system, as well as getting bail set for his young client. Jahmir Ricks spent his 14th birthday in jail.

Last week the D.A.’s office withdrew the most serious charges against Sardella. She will no longer face the death penalty. In fact she no longer faces first-degree murder charges or voluntary manslaughter. Instead she likely will face lesser third-degree murder charges.

On Monday Jahmir Ricks was held for trial on first-degree murder charges. He remains in jail. His attorney will continue to seek bail and to have the cased remanded to the juvenile justice system.

I am not about to say these two cases are evidence of two different systems of justice in this county. It is much more complicated than that.

But I do know that Jahmir Ricks, just 13, has spent every minute since that deadly argument with his brother as a ward of the Delaware County Prison.

Sardella spent a day in jail, although the D.A.’s office did say at one point they would seek to have her bail revoked. That likely now also will be withdrawn.

I am sure something is being gained by keeping a 13-year-old kid locked up. I’m just not sure what it is.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 29

The Daily Numbers: 2 people stabbed, and one dead after an incident in Olney. A house was set on fire, and police believe it was done to cover up the original crime.

39, that was the chilly temperature that greeted most of us when we left the house this morning. Yep, summer’s over.

1 student brutally attacked at Rowan College late Saturday. He died of his injuries on Sunday afternoon.

8 p.m., that’s the new curfew for those 17 and younger in Lower Chichester Township.

39, age of woman found slain in her Exton townhouse. Police say she was beaten to death with an ax-like object.

22, age of her boyfriend, who is now charged in the incident.

189 employees with management titles at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, once again coming under fire for being a patronage haven.

54.5 percent increase in revenue brought in by the parking authority. Unfortunately, much of it has gone to meet the payroll, which has doubled. The agency brought in $192 million, but gave only $20 million to the city.

1 dollar surcharge that has been slapped on SEPTA riders who buy train tickets after they get on the train. SEPTA now says it will begin offering same-day credits to riders.

3 shootings and two more people dead on Philadelphia streets Wednesday night.

17,000 parking places at Philadelphia International Airport, and they’re planning to make it easier for those arriving there to find open spots. They’ll use new software to display where the open spots are.

6 minors cited for underage drinking at a Center City speakeasy by state LCB officials over the weekend.

2 days on the lam for a Wilmington inmate mistakenly released from prison with another group of inmates on Friday. He was picked up Sunday in a stolen car.

3 cents more we’re paying for gas on this Monday morning. Fuel continues to creep up. Average price in the area is now $2.81.

29 DUI arrests made by police in Delaware during a DUI checkpoint over the weekend.

3 wins and four losses for the Eagles after their uninspiring win over the Vikings Sunday. Of course, all will be forgiven if they beat the Cowboys at the Link next Sunday night.

2 World Series rings now being sported by former Phillies manager Terry Francona, who led the Red Sox to a sweep over the Rockies last night.

52 points dropped on the Redskins by the red-hot Patriots yesterday. Yes, the Eagles have a date with the Pats in about a month. It won’t be pretty.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
How good must it be to be a Boston fan these days? They’re getting ready to host another World Series Championship parade, the Patriots are the best football team on the planet, Boston College is No. 2 in the BCS rankings and QB Matt Ryan could win the Heisman. Next thing you’ll tell me is that the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett in the off-season. Oh, they did? Just great.

I Don’t Get It: A 16-year-old student at McKean High School in Delaware has been charged with second-degree reckless endangering for an incident on a school bus last week. And what did he do? Set another student’s hair on fire. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Yes, it’s that time of year. Break out the candy. Trick-or Treat is Wednesday night.

Quote Box: "It was huge, gigantic, something we needed."

-- Eagles offensive tackle William ‘Tra’ Thomas, on the Birds win yesterday over the Vikings.

The Sardella case

I didn’t think it was going to take long for the reaction to start coming in.

It didn’t.

We got word of the decision by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office to withdraw the most serious charges against 19-year-old Mia Sardella late Friday afternoon. We quickly put together a few paragraphs and posted them on our Web site indicating that the charges of first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter filed against the Drexel Hill teen and college student were being withdrawn.

It popped up a little while later later on the early TV news.
Then my phone started ringing.

I kind of expected the tone of the calls.
I wasn’t disappointed.

From the beginning, after the baby Sardella gave birth to was found in a duffel bag in the trunk of her mother’s car, it has been a lightning rod for those who believe that there are two versions of justice doled out in this country, and in this county.

They pointed out the length of time it took for charges to be filed in the case, and the fact that the young woman and her family hired a top-flight lawyer, Art Donato, before making contact with police.

I pretty much expected more of the same Friday afternoon when the charges were dropped. That’s what I got.

The first woman who called was apoplectic at the decision to withdraw the charges. Somehow she got the notion from the TV coverage that all the charges were simply being dropped against Sardella.

That’s not really the case. She will still face lesser charges, but the first-degree murder charge, and with it the possibility of the death penalty, is not longer in play.

Sardella likely now will be charged with third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse.

The D.A.’s office said they made the decision to withdraw the more serious charges after a review of the forensic evidence in the case and consultation with experts, the bottom line being they don’t think they had the goods to prove a first-degree charge.

Obviously their opinion of the case has changed from the time they filed charges against the Drexel University coed. At that time, they made it clear that based on the findings of Medical Examiner Dr. Fred Hellmann, they believe the baby was born alive and it was asphyxiated.

At her preliminary hearing, a relative indicated the girl found no sign of life in the baby after she gave birth in a bathroom of her mother’s house.
No one is supposed to comment on the case because of a gag order issued by Delaware County Judge Patricia Jenkins in the controversial case.

That gag order was ordered in part because Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood made it pretty clear he believed Sardella and her family were being treated differently because of the family’s status.

Chitwood was biting his tongue when contacted Friday to comment on the story, again pointing to the gag order. It doesn’t take an advanced degree, however, to get the notion that he’s not thrilled with the move.

Now the Sardella will continue through the court system. She will continue to be on home monitoring, staying with her grandfather, prominent investment banker Albert Piscopo. The D.A.’s office also will withdraw an earlier request to have Sardella’s bail revoked.

And the public will continue to debate whether in fact there are two systems of justice in this country, and point to the Sardella case as proof of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The dreaded Eagles pick

If it's Saturday, it must be time for the dreaded weekly Eagles pick.

I'll make this simple. The Eagles are 2-4. I'm 1-5 with my prognostications. I didn't think the Eagles were as good as everyone was bellowing in the preseason. But I didn't think they were this bad either.

This team is going one of two directions tomorrow in Minnesota. Either they can scratch out a win and continue their season, or they can descend into the abyss and begin the Kevin Kolb era.

This isn't going to be pretty. Make it Vikings 19, Eagles 17.

When do you think the Kolb jerseys will go on sale? Let's go Flyers. And how many days until spring training?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The great soccer debate

The great soccer debate continues.

Apparently concerned that maybe some people would seriously consider naming the MLS team that a local group is hoping to lure to a stadium in Chester after the city itself, the good guys at Sons of Ben are seeking some possible nominations on team names and colors on their Big Soccer forum.

I think they got scared when I suggested Chester Sun, and are now looking to cut any such idea off at the pass.
If you have an idea, you can share it by clicking here.

I’m still hearing from people who kind of like the idea of keeping Chester – the city where the team will actually play – in the name.
Ain’t going to happen.

Leader in the clubhouse seems to be some variation of Philadelphia Independence or Philadelphia Athletic.

My old pal Bob Tennant, former sports and associate editor of the Daily Times, has chimed in with a unique spin that would still hold a key tie for the city. Bob suggests FC Clippers. Is there a nickname more intensely tied to the city than Clippers? And he goes one better. He’d like to see legendary Strath Haven soccer guru Mike Barr as the team’s coach.

Me? Well, it certainly appears as if Chester Sun is being shot down. Eclipsed as it were.

Here’s an alternative. How about FC Philboys. No, it’s not named after me. It’s a spin off the Philly theme that is probably going to wind up in the name.

Unless you think FC Philadelco, combing the two, has a nice ring to it. Maybe FC Laddies. Hey, I’m Irish, what do you expect?

Go to the site and offer your own ideas. In the meantime, when this thing is announced, I intend to put the newspaper in the running with a contest to name the team.

Yep, I’m going to be dragged into this whole soccer thing kicking and screaming. Next thing you know I’ll wind up hanging out with some hooligans. Or newspaper people, which is kind of the same thing.

About that ad

Got an interesting e-mail Thursday.

"Disturbed reader in Drexel Hill" had a complaint about something that appeared in the newspaper. Only this time it wasn’t a news story. It was an ad.

I’ll admit it jolted me when I saw it as well. The ad appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 24 edition. Right there on Page 12. It was for the Suburban Armory, a gun store. The ad featured a display of several handguns on sale at the store.

I’ll admit it is a jarring ad. Adding to my unease was the story that also appeared on that page. Literally wrapped around the ad was a story on a Trainer man who was pleading guilty in the shooting of a Glenolden police officer who had responded to a domestic incident in Norwood on New Year’s Day.

Granted, it was not the best placement for that story.

But there are a couple of things you should know. One, when the editors working on the news desk put pages together, they don’t see the ads. Still, it was not a good combination. We certainly did not purposely place that story around that ad.

The reader was not amused. I can certainly understand the concern.
But the bottom line is that we are a business that depends on advertising, and this is a legitimate place of business. We do not routinely reject such advertising.

The reader admitted as much, but still urged us to avoid such ads in the future. In all honesty, that’s a decision that’s out of my hands.
The good news is that he ended his e-mail by saying he enjoyed the newspaper and hoped to continue to do so.

I’m glad he made his concerns known. I want him to know it is something we are aware of, and something that concerns me as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 25

The Daily Numbers: 1 ‘person of interest’ in custody in Delaware after a chase and standoff yesterday. A former Darby man is wanted for questioning in a series of homicides that occurred in Chester and Wilmington.

1 more Penn-Delco School Board member hitting the exit door. John Green bailed Wednesday night. He has been charged with a felony ethics count.

9 school board members who have now left in the last 15 months in the Penn-Delco School District.

3 independent candidates in Chester who have been booted off the ballot by the state Supreme Court. Granny Lash, Francis Whittington and Charles Warren III have all been removed.

15 billion dollar deal for 141 Chinook helicopters that is now up in the air. Boeing thought they had won the deal for their Ridley plant. Now the Air Force is going to have the deal re-bid.

28 years on the lam after a prison escape that ended Wednesday for a Philadelphia man. He was arrested at his home.

3,000 jobs being cut by Bank of America, which is a big player in Wilmington. How the cuts will hit Delaware has not yet been decided.

74 percent of those polled in Philadelphia who said they were backing Democrat Michael Nutter in the mayoral race.

8 percent who admitted being in the camp of Republican Al Taubenberger. Another 18 percent are undecided. What if they had a mayoral election and nobody showed? That would include the Republicans in the city, who simply don’t seem to exist.

3 shootings and two more people dead on Philadelphia streets Wednesday night.

2 attempted child abductions reported in Wilmington.

4 the ranking of Pennsylvania in a study of car-deer collisions. Coming in first is West Virginia, followed by Michigan and Wisconsin.

17 local volunteers who have headed to fire-ravaged California with the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross.

6 times the size of Philadelphia, that’s the size of the area burning in California.

1 cent more we’re now paying for gas today in the Philly region. Average price is now $2.78, and that’s five cents more than a week ago.

2.4 trillion dollars, one estimate of the cost of the war in Iraq through the next decade. The Bush Administration isn’t buying the numbers.

4 goals given up by Martin Biron in Flyers loss in Florida last night.

12 wins in 28 games since winning the NFC Championship in 2004. That’s Donovan McNabb’s record as a starter in that span.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anyone else watch Game One of the World Series last night, played in a constant drizzle, and not think of Bowie Kuhn and a miserable wet, cold night at Veterans Stadium?

I Don’t Get It: Investigators now believe some of the fires that have charred much of California may have been deliberately set. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: I’m guessing they’re likely won’t be any more charges in Penn-Delco. Is there anyone left?

Quote Box: "I felt resigning was in the best interest of the district."
-- Penn-Delco School Board member John Green, after stepping down last night after his arrest on ethics charges.

Sun sets on Editor

I am the editor of the Delaware County Daily Times.
Not the Philadelphia Daily Times.

Not the Delaware Valley Daily Times.

Not the Philadelphia Region Daily Times.

Not the Brandywine Daily Times.

We tend to focus on things that are going on right here in Delaware County. Oh, we certainly cover the city, as well as the region, but the bulk of our time we zero in on what’s happening right here in our back yard. We also cover all the Philly pro sports, all of which currently make their home inside the city limits.

That may be about to change. Not our coverage. The location of one of the teams.

That possibility is taking shape on the Chester waterfront. This week another glittering gem was unveiled in what is quickly turning into an economic juggernaut in this troubled city.

County Council announced it would in essence become a partner with the folks who are going to build a stadium beneath the Commodore Barry Bridge in an attempt to lure a Major League Soccer franchise.

It’s not what you would call a small investment. Unless you think $30 million is chump change. In total it’s a $115 million project.

Yesterday, in this space, I decided to have some fun with this whole idea of a stadium and a pro sports franchise in Chester.

Since it was going to be located in this once-vibrant city, why not, I suggested, have the city prominently mentioned in the team’s name.
In fact, I reached into the city’s proud economic history and suggested the team be called the Chester Sun, harking back to Sun Shipbuilding, as well as Sun Co.

Do I think this has any chance of happening? Yeah, right. About as big a chance as me being elected to County Council.

We might as well get used to it, this team very likely is going to be called the Philadelphia Somethings, regardless of the fact that it will call Chester home.

My blog did, however, get noticed. As with just about anything involving the push to bring pro soccer to the region, the Sons of Ben, which has been in the forefront of the move to bring Beckham and Posh to Delco, noticed my thoughts. And they posted a portion of my blog on one of their soccer forums.

The soccer zealots who reside there proceeded to kick me around pretty good. Let’s just say Chester Sun went over about as well as a group of rowdy Man-U fans in enemy territory. One poster thought Chester Sun sounded like a WNBA team. Ouch!

I don’t think they realized I was, for the most part, joking.

I also didn’t realize that Sons of Ben has already done a poll on the name for the team that has not yet been granted to the region.

Leading the pack is Philadelphia Athletic, drawing on the city's baseball past, and a team name widely used in England, which gives it soccer credibility. Others being kicked around – literally – include IndependenceFC and Philadelphia IndependenceFC.

Here are a few others, courtesy of Bryan James, the president of Sons of Ben: Keystone Athletic, Philadelphia Athletic, Philadelphia Independence, FC Delco (which I think is a fairly big youth travel team in the area already). Chester City FC already exists in England.

These guys already have a color scheme they like – yellow gold and light blue. Think Eagles retro unis.

Check out their Web site by clicking here.

I remain committed to Chester being a pro town.

And I again volunteer the newspaper’s service if the owners want to run a contest to name the team.

Just don’t ask the editor for his opinion.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 24

The Daily Numbers: 6 candidates for Delaware County Council who went mano a mano last night at a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

11 rifles and 3 handguns found along with boxes of ammunition by Upper Darby cops inside a duplex on Windermere Avenue .

1 more member of the Penn-Delco School Board in hot water with the law. John Green has been charged with a felony count of conflict of interest for not disclosing his relationship with a company that received business from the district.

838 dollars, the amount of commissions paid to Penn-Delco School Board member John Green by Temp-Air, a Wilmington company, to handle a mold problem in Sun Valley High School. Green works for Temp-Air.

144 Chinook helicopters Boeing Co. thought it was going to build for the Air Force. Now the deal is going to be rebid after a couple of competitors cried foul. Boeing had hoped the job would create as many as 400 jobs at the Ridley plant. Now they have to start the process all over.

2 people killed in a house fire in South Philadelphia this morning. That brings the city’s fire death total in 2007 to 41.

500,000 dollars, the amount two Bucks County brothers took from some 15 customers for contracting work, but failed to deliver the goods. They will stand trial in connection with the scam.

1,300 homes that have been destroyed by rampaging wildfires in California.

1,500 dollar fine being sought for those who urinate – and worse – in public after neighbors of several Manayunk nightspots went to city council and cried foul.

6 wins and 13 losses, that would be Donovan McNabb’s record in his last 19 starts for the Eagles.

18 wins and 20 losses for the Birds in their last 38 contests since they lost that Super Bowl in Jacksonville. That would be the essence of mediocre.

6 wins against one loss for the Flyers, who will go for No. 7 when they visit Florida tonight.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
They will play Game One of the World Series tonight. Some day, hopefully before I check out, the Phillies will return to this stage.

I Don’t Get It: What exactly would drive a person to strangle a dog with his bare hands. That’s what police in Delaware are trying to determine. They have video of a man in the back yard of a multi-million-dollar house in a confrontation with what appears to be a family pet. Kelsey ended up dead. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Chester once was a major league town. At least in terms of its economy and the items that flowed out of the city borders. It might be again if those looking to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to the city are successful.

Quote Box: "Petitioner’s policy argument should be addressed to Congress, not the (Supreme) court."
-- Solicitor General Paul Clement, arguing against a high court hearing on the status of late junior firefighter Chris Kangas.

Sports Authority? That would be us

A problem has popped up with the $30 million chunk of change Delco is chipping in to build a stadium in Chester in hopes of luring a Major League Soccer franchise.

OK, it’s not really a problem. Or maybe better said it’s my problem.
To facilitate all this soccer mania, Delaware County will create an entity to keep an eye on its investment, in essence making the county a partner with the folks looking to build the stadium in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester.

To that end, as expected County Council Tuesday passed a measure to do just that.

So what’s the problem? The new entity, the Delaware County Sports Authority, would own the stadium and the land, keeping a close eye on the county’s money, which will not, by the way, include any tax dollars.
Delaware County Sports Authority? Sound familiar? Where have I heard that before?

Yep, you got it. I stare at it first thing every morning.

If you have a print edition of the Daily Times handy, you might know where this is headed. Grab a copy. Flip it over. Look at the masthead, right there under Times Sports.

See what is says? Delaware County’s Sports Authority. We’ve referred to our sports section that way for years.

That does not mean we’re going to be in business with the county. It does mean we’re excited about another huge economic blockbuster coming to the Chester waterfront.

So here’s my proposal for the county: You can have the name. Actually, we’ll share it with you.

In exchange, we’d gladly accept the naming rights to the new stadium. Daily Times Park has a nice ring to it.

Somehow, I don’t think the county is going to be all that receptive to my idea.

So how about this: If the county and their partners are successful in landing a Major League Soccer franchise, I hereby offer the newspaper’s services to canvass our readers to come up with a name for the new franchise.

I’ll even throw out the first suggestion.

Drawing on a couple of proud giants with very close ties to both the city and county, I hereby suggest the new team be called the Chester Sun.
The stadium would be a stone’s throw from what once was the juggernaut known as Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. A few miles away in Marcus Hook, Sun Co. remains an economic powerhouse. It has run a refinery there forever, along with others in the region. So, Sun’s headquarters are in downtown Philly. We won’t hold that against them.
In addition, the whole idea’s biggest boosters are a group called the Sons of Ben. So it’s not exactly spelled the same. They could still feed off it.

Hey, they might even draw people who think the team is a spinoff from the legendary British Man-Chester United. We’ll take credit for that, too.
Besides, it would be a headline writer’s dream. Brilliant Sun, Burned by Sun. Sun eclipsed. Sun down. Sun up. The possibilities are endless.

Chester Sun.
Let it shine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 23

The Daily Numbers: 30 million bucks, that’s how much Delco is planning to fork over as part of the deal to build a soccer stadium in Chester to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to town.

115 million dollars, what the total cost of the project would be, another huge economic blockbuster for both the city and county.

20,000 folks who would fit inside the facility, which would hug the Delaware River in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

572.41 dollars, the amount of the fine for a Lansdowne man who authorities say abandoned his dog because he believed the pooch had cancer.

304 dollars, the amount the man also must reimburse the SPCA for medical care offered to the dog.

5 bullets fired into a man during a tiff that escalated into gunfire inside a Darby Township bar.

250 more video surveillance cameras that should be installed on Philadelphia streets in the next two weeks. They will be added to the 18 already in place.

1 son of Eagles coach Andy Reid who is now out of jail. Garrett Reid continues to be on house arrest. Another son, Britt Reid, remains behind bars.

2,500 slot machines inside the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. It’s the state’s first free-standing slots palace.

10,000 patrons who had gone through the doors of the resort as of 6 p.m. Monday.

3 years old, age of boy struck by hit-and-run driver in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia Monday night.

1 person killed after a high-speed police chase through South Jersey. The car being chased slammed into a pole and flipped over at 1:30 this morning along the Whitehorse Pike in Winslow Township.

2 wins against four losses for the struggling Eagles. This team looks like it’s going nowhere fast.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Bottom line on the Eagles: They’re just not that good, and probably did take advantage of what was a lousy NFC for years. Now the tide is turning. Where are all those predictions of 14-2 we heard back in August? Can you say 8-8?

I Don’t Get It: I’ve had many emotions while watching Eagles games over the years. Many of them involve four-letter words. Boredom is not an emotion I usually connect to Eagles football, but that’s what this team inspires in me. Because of a business meeting on Sunday, I didn’t really see any of the game. And it didn’t really bother me a bit.

Today’s Upper: A huge thumb’s up to the owner of the pizza shop in Delaware who decided to take a stand when confronted with a holdup try. They sent the would-be robber a message. The suspect is from Aston.

Quote Box: "We already have 1,100 season tickets spoken for through our ticket drive."
-- Byron James, spokesman for the group Sons of Ben, who are leading the charge toward luring a pro soccer team to a stadium to be built in Chester.

Deja Vu all over again in Chester

Here we go again.

A confession here: A few years ago I got a phone tip from an anonymous caller wanting to know if I had heard anything about a group looking to build a horse-racing track in Chester.

I tried not to let my emotions show through the phone as my eyes rolled back in my head. I told the caller we’d check it out.

"Yeah, right," I snickered to myself after I got off the phone. "Sure, they’re going to build a horse track in Chester."

I walked out into the newsroom and approached the reporter who was covering Chester for us at the time.

"This is going to sound bizarre," I told him, "but have you heard anything about a group looking to build a horse-racing track in Chester?"

He looked at me like I had seven heads.

"Check it out," I said. He did not look amused. Without saying it, I could tell what he was thinking: "Why are you wasting my time with this kind of wild goose chase."

A few hours later, the sheepish reporter stuck his head into my office.
"Uh, you know that thing about the track in Chester?" he said. "There might be something to it."

Today, not only is there a racetrack in Chester, there also is the glittering Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack.

I was a non-believer for a long time.
I had a stock response.

"When I see Wendell Butler (the mayor of Chester) with a set of those huge scissors cutting the ribbon to the place, I’ll believe it."
I was wrong.

Now it could be happening again.

County Council Monday formally announced a deal to put the county in business with private developers who are looking to build a soccer stadium in Chester. The idea is to use the facility to lure a Major League Soccer team.

Does it seem far-fetched? Not anymore. This is not the same Chester.
Yep, right there on the front page of today’s newspaper is an artist’s rendition of what the stadium would look like, hugging the waterfront in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

It’s not far from the racetrack.
In a lot of ways.

This is not pie-in-the-sky. It is big bucks. The county is talking about funneling $30 million into what could be a $115 million stadium project.

Imagine that, a major league sports franchise calling Chester home.

As they say down the street at Harrah’s, don’t bet against it.

The print column

Here's a look at my print column for this week, looking at kids and cars and the trouble that often ensues.

Maybe it’s a guilty conscience.

I often find myself telling my kids to do as I say, not as I did.The feeling came over me again last week as we covered still another fatal crash involving a young driver.

Look, I grew up in Oxford, out in Chester County. Today, it’s still known to some as “the sticks.”

In the ’70s, it might as well have been another world. In some ways, it was. When I am speaking to groups today, I try to give them a feel of what it was like growing up in Oxford. This is one of the stories I use: Remember the warning they gave Columbus when they mocked his intention to sail to the new world, convinced that instead what he was going to do was sail right off the edge of the flat globe?

Well, get yourself out there on Baltimore Pike. Past Route 202. Past Longwood Gardens. When you get to the point where they believed the world ended, you’ve almost made it to Oxford.

Let’s just say there wasn’t a lot to do. So how did teens amuse themselves?

We rode around in cars. Cruising. We drove back and forth along the main drag, waving to the same people, who were doing the same thing. Of course, it helped back then that you could drive around pretty much all night on a Saturday for a buck’s worth of gas.

But that’s not all we did. Sometimes we drove faster than we should have. Sometimes a lot faster.In Oxford, cars were king. The hotter your wheels, the bigger your reputation grew.There were times that had to be proved on the street. I believe they call that drag racing. Doing that on the street is illegal. That didn’t stop us.It also sometimes didn’t stop the consequences. Back then, many a Sunday morning was filled with the news of the latest horrific crash. People would actually drive out to the scene and look around in a macabre practice that became all too familiar.

Not all the crashes were linked to drag racing. Almost all of them were due to kids and cars, and the thrill of driving them. Usually driving them way too fast.I was reminded of those reckless times twice recently. My son just turned 18. He informed me that means he no longer has a junior driver’s license, that he no longer has to be off the road by 11 p.m. His mother and I informed him as long as he lives under our roof, he has to be off the road when we tell him, thank you very much.Actually, he’s a very good driver. Do I know what he does when he’s out on his own? No. My hope is that he does as his father says, not as his father once did.

There is, of course, another reason I was thinking recently about young people and cars.Last weekend, this newspaper covered the latest tragic crash in Springfield. It is the phone call that a lot of parents dread: “There’s been an accident.”

Back in the ’60’s and ’70s, a lot of parents in Oxford got that call.

Every night, I thank God I have not experienced that kind of pain, that my kids — both of them — have for the most part spared me some of the aggravation I caused my parents.

Coincidentally, the very same weekend we learned of the death of Eddie Lancaster. He was in a car full of his Penncrest High buddies when it went out of control on Valley Road out in Edgmont five years ago. One friend was killed. Lancaster was left a paraplegic.Police in Springfield believe the driver of one of the cars, 18-year-old James Blair Heron, had pulled out to pass another car and was in the left-hand lane when he collided with a car driven by James Eden, a grandfather who was just blocks from his home.

Yes, I was taken aback when I saw the name as I checked online early Sunday morning.

To the best of my knowledge, we’re not related. But we have some things in common. I can only imagine what the two families involved in this tragedy are going through.Young people and cars. It’s a volatile concoction.

Like I said, maybe it’s a guilty conscience. I know what I did years ago.Every time we deal with this kind of tragedy, I remember back to all those nights riding around town. And what could have been.Some things you don’t forget so easily.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The dreaded Eagles Pick

It's Saturday, and that means time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

One of the bigger surprises of the season so far is not the mediocre play of the Eagles, but the decline of the Bears, in particular that defense.

It's time for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles to get well.

Unfortunately, I don't think they have the firepower to do it.

They'll win, but continue to struggle.

Bottom line is this. This team has found its niche, struggling to hit the .500 mark.

So far, they're barely playing better than my predictions. They're 2-3, while I'm 1-4.

Make it 19-13 Eagles. Try to stay awake. Remember, it's a 4:15 game.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 19

The Daily Numbers: 2 Delaware County schools now dealing with a case of the so-called "super-bug" MRSA infection. Chichester High School was cleaned and is open today. Indian Lane Elementary School is closed for a precaution and will reopen Monday after a thorough cleaning.

1 student at Sun Valley High School diagnosed with viral meningitis.

10 percent of $10,000 bail, which former Penn-Delco School Board President Keith Crego has yet to raise. He continues to reside for now at Delaware County Prison after being charged with 21 felonies in connection with the scandal that has rocked the district for months.

13 pounds of marijuana seized by Chester cops in a drug bust. The pot has a street value of $42,000.

80 million dollar movie studio, which could be located in Aston. Pacifica Ventures wants to locate their new facility in Delaware County.

25,000 dollar award for Springfield High teacher Jill Dougherty, winner of a 2007 Milken Family Foundation Award. Kudos to her.

20 seconds, all it took to implode the old Sands Casino in Atlantic City last night. That and 550 strategically placed blasts.

4,000 Pennsylvania National Guard troops who are getting the call-up and will be headed for Iraq. And another 3,200 citizen-soldiers in New Jersey doing likewise.

6.5 million dollars, that’s the asking price for the famed Blue Horizon boxing venue in North Philly.

2 to 4 years in jail for the school principal in Allentown who was convicted of selling meth from his office.

1 billion dollars raised so far by Pennsylvania’s new slots casinos. More than half of that, however, is from the licensing fees outfits like Harrah’s forked over to the state. The rest came from the 10,130 slot machines in the state.

2 straight shutouts for Flyers’ goaltender Martin Biron, who blanked the Devils last night.

4 goals for the Flyers, who continue to show they actually mean it with that new slogan, "Back With a Vengeance."

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Andy Reid didn’t think it was necessary to have a punt returner in the team’s opener in Green Bay. Do you think he will find it necessary to kick away from Bears return phenom Devin Hester?

I Don’t Get It: Baseball continues to play games into the wee hours of the morning. This isn’t rocket science. Ratings are down because no one is staying up that late to watch the games.

Today’s Upper: Delaware County is certifiably hot. Now we just might be seeing our share of hotties as well. A big-time movie studio wants to make its new home here, possibly in Aston. One of the potential locations is Tri-State Sports in Aston.

Quote Box: "When we found out about it, we thought it would be best to get information about the staph infection out to parents."
-- Chichester School District Superintendent Michael Golde, on the case of the MRSA infection that one Chi High student is being treated for.

Delco's Prince

Imagine that. Another story about a priest plastered all over the front page of the newspaper. What have they done now.

I know there is an impression out there that this editor, and this newspaper, carries an anti-Catholic bias. There are readers who insist we never miss an opportunity to take a shot at the church, its prelates, or archdiocesan schools.

Simply put, they believe we routinely engage in Catholic-bashing.
I do not happen to agree with that opinion. We report the news. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s bad.

On Wednesday it was very good. And it involved one of our own. In more ways than one.

First thing Wednesday morning we received word that Archbishop John P. Foley was being elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

The first words that entered my mind happen to be the two words that sit atop this blog item: Delco’s Prince.

Yes, the pride of Delaware County and native of Sharon Hill, Archbishop Foley will become a prince of the Roman Catholic church when the pope places the red cap on his head on Nov. 24.

Foley grew up on Bartlett Avenue in Sharon Hill. He attended Holy Spirit Parish School. He would return there to celebrate his first Mass after being ordained a priest.

Foley has another connection to the county, and to this newspaper. He delivered it as a kid. Actually Foley had a route for our predecessor, The Chester Times. We could not be prouder of our link to this special man.

Obviously, there is no shortage of folks in the county who feel likewise. That is why so many of them plan to make a pilgrimage to Rome next month to share in the special day when a humble man from Sharon Hill is elevated to the highest echelons of the church.

Yes, the Catholic church has its problems. It also has men like Archbishop John Foley.

The folks back here at the newspaper he once delivered could not be happier to put that story on our front page.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 18

The Daily Numbers: 21 felony counts filed against former Penn-Delco School Board President Keith Crego.

202 years in jail, the maximum he faces if convicted on all counts, plus a fine of $425,000.

1 felony lodged against former Penn-Delco Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn. She also faces a number of misdemeanors.

51 years behind bars and a $105,000 fine, the max she’d be hit with if convicted on all charges.

4 homicides now being looked at as possibly connected in a deadly spree that includes Chester and Wilmington, Del. A man found shot to death in his SUV in Wilmington is now believed to be tied to the deaths of two Wilmington women who were shot in Chester, and a man found dead in the trunk of a car in Philadelphia.

2 deaths of students at Rider University in New Jersey now believed linked to excessive drinking. The latest involves a student found unconscious Tuesday night.

270 pounds of explosives that is set to bring down the old Sands Casino Hotel tonight in a prime time show, including fireworks, tonight in Atlantic City. But not if a hotel next door has its way. They are going to court this morning to block the implosion.

199,999 dollars more in rent, what the Boy Scouts of America could be looking at for its Philadelphia headquarters in a city-owned building if they do not change their rules barring gay Scouts.

400,000 dollars believed ripped off from a Bucks County retirement home by a former accounts payable clerk.

10 bucks, the amount of a parking ticket that somehow managed to get the sales manager of a Montgomery County car dealer in handcuffs right there in the showroom.

320 homicides so far this year in the city of Philadelphia. The latest was a 23-year-old man shot in the stomach while he sat on the porch of his Olney home Wednesday night.

8 million dollars, what an Allentown woman wants from the city in a lawsuit she’s filed after a crash involving a police cruiser killed her 4-year-old son, who was an innocent bystander.

3 million bonus, that has Eagles star running back Brian Westbrook at odds with his bosses. The team is withholding his paycheck to get the money back, which was mistakenly paid to him in the first place.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Was anyone else bored last night? No baseball. No Flyers. No nothing. What’s a sports fan to do? Wait for the latest news on Andy Reid’s kids?

I Don’t Get It: Joe Paterno is maybe the crustiest coach in the world. It’s part of his legacy, but one that isn’t adding to his storied history as he refuses to deal head-on with some of the off-field antics that have marred Happy Valley in recent months. Specifically, his handling of news that sex assault charges were filed against a star running back leave a lot to be desired.

Today’s Upper: Yes, it’s a reach. But at least the waiting is over in Penn-Delco. The charges are out there on the table. Now the healing can begin.

Quote Box: "The fundamental thing we find here is he acted for himself, not in the best interests of taxpayers and the parents of school-age children."
-- Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green, in announcing long list of charges against former Penn-Delco School Board President Keith Crego.

Decision Day in Penn-Delco

It was Tuesday, March 20.

On that day, plastered all over the front of this newspaper, was confirmation of something that had been whispered about in the Penn-Delco School District for months.

There was something seriously wrong in the district, and it pointed directly at some of those in charge.

The story detailed an investigation by the county District Attorney’s Office into the school district’s relationship with an outfit called Quick Start Preschools LLC. The company, which was very popular with residents, had been brought into the district to run child-care programs.

Greasing the path for Quick Start’s arrival in the district was one of its biggest proponents, school board President Keith Crego. And no wonder. As we now know, Crego was a secret owner. And he wasn’t alone. He managed to convince Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn to get on board as well.

It was the start of months of headlines, accusations and discord that rocked the troubled school district to its foundation.

Everyone was waiting for the same thing. When would we hear from the district attorney, and what would he say?

Yesterday we found out.

The hammer came down, and it fell squarely on Crego and Abrutyn.

Crego had been at the center of the firestorm in the district for months, reaching a head when a board member, with whom he was having a relationship and who he was instrumental in getting on the board, filed a protection from abuse order against him. He did likewise against her. Eventually, Crego was forced to step down.

There has been a virtual merry-go-round of members coming and going from the Penn-Delco School Board. They all seemed to have one focal point: Keith Crego.

The Quick Start program was no different. Crego was instrumental in ushering it into the district when the contract with the Rocky Run YMCA, which had run the program for years, expired.

What some suspected, but nobody actually knew, is what was laid out by investigators yesterday. There was more to the relationship between Crego and Quick Start than met the eye.

A lot more. Thousands of dollars more.

The district attorney alleges Crego was actually a "secret" investor in Quick Start, that he set up the company, got them into the district, and then lined his pockets with money paid to the firm along the way.

While the firm is named as an entity in yesterday’s charges, none of the individuals tied to it other than Crego are.

But Leslye Abrutyn is. The respected former superintendent, for whom a new wing of a district school was once named, is alleged to have kicked in $10,000 in cash, which she turned over to Crego in a school parking lot and which was used as part of the startup money.

The charges make pretty clear that Crego was leaning fairly hard on Abrutyn, intimidating her into turning over the cash. And tossing her career down the drain in the process.

You have to wonder just what it was that would make Abrutyn go along with such a scheme. She’s also charged with tampering with evidence, giving false information and falsifying her statements of financial interest.

Crego faces 21 felony offenses and 11 misdemeanors. Today he sits behind bars at Delaware County Prison. In still one more bizarre twist, Crego faces a slew of drug charges, including possession of steroids and a form of the drug Ecstasy.

Abrutyn faces one felony charge, and a number of misdemeanors. She was released on her own recognizance.

In their wake, they have left a school district that continues to offer kids a very good education, even as its leadership is in shambles.

It took eight months – more if you consider when the county probe actually started -- for all the twists and turns in this case to boil down to this.


If you believe the charges, Keith Crego saw a way to make some easy money and went for it.

The guy must be one helluva salesman. Because he took in a lot of people along the way.

He also betrayed the people who put him in office, the taxpayers of the Penn-Delco School District.

Now it’s time to pick up the pieces. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 17

The Daily Numbers: 2 sons of Andy Reid now housed in the Montgomery County Prison. If Reid can concentrate on coaching while all this is going on at home, he’s a better man than I.

4 names of Republican Penn-Delco School candidates that will not appear on sample ballots in Parkside. The borough GOP is upset at what has been going on in the school district and has indicated they will not support any of the GOP incumbents.

13, the age of the teen who was back in court yesterday for motions connected to the first-degree murder charges lodged against him in the stabbing death of his brother.

2 people slain and a third wounded after a shooting overnight in an apartment complex on Street Road in Warminster, Bucks County.

500 dollars worth of video games ripped off from a store in the Lehigh Valley Mall by a guy who claimed to be a New York City detective.

2,000 women surveyed to find out what they look for in a car. Turns out they want function, not pizazz. Like what? Like a hatchback that opens and closes automatically. And blue-tooth technology.

22 billion that experts say we will spend on gadgets on gizmos this holiday season. Forget world peace. That comes in second on most wish lists. No. 1 with adults this year is a new computer.

1 person killed Tuesday night when a motorcycle crashed into a car at Callowhill and Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia. The driver of the motorcycle was killed.

1 person seriously injured when she was struck by a car while trying to cross Lancaster Avenue in the Haverford section of Lower Merion Tuesday night. The driver took off. The woman is in critical condition.

1 student at Downingtown East High School killed and two others injured when a car slammed into a tree Sunday afternoon.

0 goals allowed by Martin Biron in goal for the Flyers as they shut out the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-0.

1, as in 1st place, where the rejuvenated Flyers now sit in the NHL’s Atlantic Division.

8 days the red-hot Colorado Rockies now have to wait to start the World Series against either the Indians or Red Sox. Late October baseball in Colorado. Should be interesting. Keep the parkas ready, guys.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Gee, they canceled the National Lacrosse League season, which means no Philadelphia Wings this year. Better get used to watching hockey.

I Don’t Get It: How low can you go? Police say a woman near Johnstown has been charged with burglarizing her neighbor’s home. So? Well, the neighbors say they were attending a funeral at the time.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delco native Archbishop John Foley, who will be elevated to a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI. Foley is a native of Sharon Hill and once was a paperboy for this very newspaper.

Quote Box: "I put my hand on my son’s chest as he gasped his last breath."
-- Jennifer Christopher, testifying yesterday at sentencing for the man convicted in the DUI death of her son Anthony.

The Reid dilemma

Much as he would no doubt like it to, the problem is not going to go away.

Not for Andy Reid. Not for the Philadelphia Eagles, either.

Andy Reid is the head coach of the Eagles. That gets him on the Back Page of this newspaper, and the front page of a lot of sports sections.
But he also has been getting on the front page of newspapers, as well as on every TV and radio newscast, for something else.

All is not well in the Reid house.

The problems with Reid’s two sons, Garrett and Britt, are now well known.

Both are battling the kind of drug and alcohol demons that many of us deal with. The difference is that they do not get the luxury of doing so in relative anonymity. That is because, like it or not, their father is big news in this town.

Both Garrett, 24, and his younger brother Britt, 22, now reside in the Montgomery County Prison.

Britt has been there since Aug. 24 after it was determined he had violated conditions of his release. He pleaded guilty in a road-rage incident in which he is believed to have brandished a weapon after an altercation with a driver. Then he was taken into custody after being stopped in the parking lot of a Montgomery County sporting goods store. He now faces new charges of driving under the influence. The new charge violated the release he won on the road-rage incident. He’s now in the slammer.

On Tuesday he was joined by his older brother. Garrett was awaiting sentencing from charges resulting from a crash last January in which he ran a stop sign and plowed into another car, seriously injuring the woman driver. At the time, Garrett admitted he had used heroin earlier in the day. He was free while awaiting sentencing on Nov. 1.

But he had to undergo routine drug testing. On Tuesday he did not show up for his test, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. His attorney says it was a miscommunication.

For his part, Andy Reid is not communicating at all. He is declining comment on the situation. So is the team.

The media and public, of course, feel no such reservation. They are weighing in on the issue, as am I.

There are no shortages of opinion on this. Some believe Reid should step down, that it is ludicrous for him to be coaching the team while his family is in chaos.

Others believe his sons are grown men and should stand on their own in the incidents that have caused so much commotion for their family.

Complicating matters is the spotty performance by the Eagles so far this season, and some questionable moves by the coach that have led to the obvious questions of whether he is distracted by what is going on at home.

How can he not be? Should he step away?
That’s a question for Reid and the team to decide.

And all the rest of us to talk about.

There are undoubtedly a lot of perks that come with being the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. And of being his son.

This week we again learn there is a downside to that as well.
You have to feel for the Reids, both father and sons.

They are battling something a lot us face. But they’re doing it in the limelight of a voracious media.

I don’t claim to have the answer to what should happen here. I simply want to wish the best to a father and his two sons.

At this point I don’t really give a damn what happens to the team. I’m looking at three men who are hurting, and simply wish them the best in battling their demons.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A parent's worst nightmare

It is the phone call that every parent dreads.
"There’s been an accident."

And now two Delco families are dealing with the consequences. So is this newspaper.

Two lives – one really just beginning, one a beloved grandfather – have been snuffed out much too soon. Two families are left to mourn and pick up the pieces.

This time it was in Springfield, on a stretch of Rolling Road where residents have long complained that cars simply go too fast.

What’s known is this: Just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning, a car driven by 18-year-old James Blair Heron collided with one driven by Jim Eden, 66, on the 200 block of North Rolling Road.

Both were alone in their cars. Neither survived.

Some early reports from police suggested they were looking at drag racing as a possible cause for the crash.

It turns out that was not the case. Police now believe that there was another car involved, but that they weren’t drag racing.

Police do now believe that Heron was traveling in the wrong lane when his 2004 Ford Mustang Cobra slammed into the Toyota Avalon driven by Eden. Heron died at the scene. Eden was transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Police believe Heron actually had pulled out to pass the other car when he collided with the car driven by Eden at the crest of a hill.

Police got this information from the kids in that other car, who came to the police station on Saturday to offer their version of what happened.
The story this newspaper carried on Sunday dealt in large part with the friends and family of Heron. They had gathered at the scene during the day on Saturday.

We were not trying to slight Eden, or lessen what apparently transpired on Rolling Road.

On Sunday we went back out to the scene and talked to Eden’s family members, who likewise were holding a vigil at the scene.

Ironically, on the very same day, we learned of the death of Eddie Lancaster.

What do they have in common? Kids and cars.
It’s a volatile, dangerous concoction.

Five years ago, Lancaster was left a paraplegic in an accident that took the life of one Penncrest High School classmate and injured several others. He succumbed to his injuries last week.

Now two more families are reeling in the aftermath of another car crash.
And every night I thank God I have never had to deal with that terrible phone call.

As a newspaper editor, I can’t avoid the fallout from such incidents.
It’s a part of my job that I could do without.

If I never had to report another such incident, it wouldn’t bother me a bit.
But I know that’s not likely going to happen. More likely, it’s a matter of when, not if.

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 16

The Daily Numbers: 3 homicides involving a deadly triangle from Chester, to Wilmington, to Grays Ferry. Police now believe all three are linked.

3 feet of water on some sections of streets and underpasses in the University City section of Philadelphia this morning after a water main broke, sending a gusher of water into the street.

4 people now under arrest after a party in Upper Darby spiraled out of control. The drinking party erupted in violence; one person was stabbed.

42, age of the Upper Darby grandmother police believe used her 4-year-old granddaughter to help in an alleged shoplifting spree. She was back in court yesterday for a hearing, which was continued.

14, age of the kid who is due in court today in Montgomery County on charges stemming from his "Columbine"-style threat against Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

1 dead and one wounded after the latest street shooting in Philadelphia. Police have no suspects or motive in the case, which occurred in the 1700 block of South 60th Street.

16 inches long, length of piece of metal that fell from the sky in Delaware Monday, crashing through the roof of a parked SUV. No one was hurt. The FAA is now investigating.

80,000 cans of silly string now headed for our troops in Iraq, thanks to the efforts of a Trenton woman. The substance is used to detect trip wires on bombs.

2 people in custody and a police officer injured after a chase that started in Delaware County ended in a crash on I-95 yesterday afternoon in South Philadelphia.

118 votes against a proposal in Harrisburg to shrink the size of the Legislature. Only 83 members of the House voted in favor. Anyone surprised?

21 of 22 for the Colorado Rockies. After dismantling the Phils in three straight, all the Rockies did was go out and take four straight from the Diamondbacks to advance to the World Series. Anybody feel better now about getting swept? Didn’t think so.

0 touchdowns allowed by the Eagles defense in their win Sunday over the Jets at the Meadowlands. Consider that the high point.

1 touchdown for the Eagles, despite getting into the red zone five times. They also missed 2 field goals. And that’s your low.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The answer is a resounding "no." I don’t feel even a little bit better about the Phillies getting swept by the Rockies now that they’ve done the same to the Padres. A Philly team happens to run into a red-hot opponent. Yeah, we’ve never seen that before.

I Don’t Get It: A white construction worker at the Comcast tower site in Center City has been banned from the site after allegedly confronting a black co-worker with a noose. Not funny. Some people still don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Do you know who Octavius Cotto is? You should. The influential civil rights leader from the 19th Century has been noted with a historical marker in Eden Cemetery in Collingdale.

Quote Box: "Try to park in a well-lit area. Be aware of your surroundings."
-- That’s some advice from Yeadon police Chief Don Mulineaux, who is investigating a brutal carjacking of a 35-year-old woman in the borough.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 15

The Daily Numbers: 7 people shot in 7 hours over the weekend in Chester. Not a good weekend.

2 women killed in the hail of bullets in the city. Police now are working on a theory that the incident is somehow tied to one of the victims’ aparmentt in Edgemoor, Del.

2 people killed in a violent head-on crash on Rolling Road in Springfield early Saturday. Police continue to investigate what happened in the crash, which took the life of the teen driver of one car and a 66-year-old resident who was driving the other car.

41 years, amount of time Kathleen and Jim Eden had been married. He was killed when a car slammed head-on into his as he returned to their Springfield home Saturday night.

2 teenagers hurt when they were struck by a driver who then fled the scene in Levittown, Bucks County, Sunday night. Police are now looking for the vehicle that struck them.

1 person hurt in a electrical fire that broke out at Willow Grove Mall Sunday.

10 rowhomes damaged when fire raced through a neighborhood in Trenton, N.J., this morning. No injuries were reported.

1 person killed overnight on Route 3 in East Goshen, Chester County, when a pickup truck slammed into a parked big rig. The driver of the pickup was killed.

5 years after he suffered horrendous injuries in a car crash involving a car full of teens, Eddie Lancaster succumbed to his injuries.

9 wins against 0 losses for Andy Reid in his career as Eagles coach coming off the Bye Week.

2 wins against three losses for the Eagles after their lukewarm victory over the Jets at the Meadowlands.

2 missed field goals for Eagles kicker David Akers. He must have nightmares of Giants Stadium.

20 wins in 21 games for the Colorado Rockies, who now hold a commanding 3-0 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Championship Series.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody else underwhelmed by the Eagles’ big win on Sunday? Thought so.

I Don’t Get It: Even with all the news involving threats and high schools in the past week, Haverford police found themselves checking out still another rumor this weekend. It was found not to be credible and school was open as usual today. But you have to wonder what kind of sick kick someone gets by making these kinds of threats.

Today’s Upper: People in Chester are dealing with a very violent weekend on the city’s streets. But they’re not taking it lying down. Several groups are ready to meet the problem head-on. Good for them.

Quote Box: "He was the stone that held our family together, and without him we’re all just wandering aimlessly."
-- Ashley Eden, on the loss of her father-in-law James Eden when a teen driver slammed head-on into his car Saturday night in Springfield.

For the Birds

Maybe it’s a hangover from the Phillies.

Maybe I’m still suffering from Phillies Phever. I miss baseball. It actually hurts to watch the two League Championship Series and realize the Phillies aren’t involved.

Sunday, I suffered from something else. It’s something I don’t remember ever happening before.

I plopped myself in front of the TV at 1 o’clock to watch the Eagels, just as I have on countless Sundays.

I then proceeded to spend the next three hours trying not to fall asleep. Looking out at a perfectly gorgeous fall Sunday and asking myself why am I wasting such a day inside in front of the TV.

Of course, the Eagles did nothing to deter these feelings. In short, they were dreadful. Yes, they won. Big deal. It might be more that the Jets lost than the Eagles won.

Both teams set the game back with their performance.

Look, here’s the deal. Don’t get too excited about that win yesterday.

Yes, it reversed a slide and kept Andy Reid’s record perfect after the Bye Week. But it cannot disguise the obvious.

This team isn’t very good. That was made all the more obvious minutes later when the Patriots and Cowboys put on an offensive clinic.

Anybody believe the Eagles are even in the same stratosphere as those two teams? Didn’t think so.

There is one thing working in their favor. The NFC is horrendous. Is it outside the realm of possibilities they could sneak into the playoffs? No, not at all. Is it likely they’ll win anything once they get there? No. Can this team win a Super Bowl? Not in this lifetime.

Brace yourself for a lot of Sundays like yesterday. Of watching games and holding your nose. Of trying not to doze off. Of gazing outside and wishing you could have those three hours back.

Or consider this, which also happened to me yesterday. I actually found myself flipping over to the movie "Gladiator" during commercials. It was all I could do to go back to the game.

News and sports: A juggling act

Here's a look at today's print column, in which I discuss the way we handle news and sports in the newspaper. Make sure get to the end. Lo and behold, the Eagles did not lead the paper. And with good reason.

Today I shoot for the Trifecta.

Each of the last two weeks I have used this space to talk not about news, but rather sports. You know, all that material that starts on the Back Page and works its way forward from there.

As an inveterate people watcher, I suggest you take the following test. The next time you’re in a Wawa, watch what happens when a man picks up a copy of the Daily Times from our stack there.Yep, first thing he does is flip the paper over to look at the Back Page. That’s because that’s where the sports section starts.

Two Mondays ago, I wrote about what I consider the greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history. I refer to it simply as “Wilbert off right tackle.” That’s a reference to the key play in the Eagles 1980 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC title game.

Of course, I showed a particularly warped sense of timing to do this. That is I announced this to the world on a morning when the entire Delaware Valley was coming down with a serious case of Phillies Phever. That’s because not even 24 hours before, the Phillies had completed their improbable journey from perennial also-rans to National League East Division Champions.

I heard from more than a few readers who wondered why I would possibly talk about the Eagles on a morning when everyone was out purchasing the latest in Phillies paraphernalia. Granted, my sense of timing was not the greatest.

I confirmed that last Monday, when I wrote of my son’s conversion into both a baseball and Phillies fan.

Maybe we jinxed them. Forget Sports Illustrated, although I am tempted to remind readers that Jimmy Rollins did appear on the cover of SI that week.

I am not a soothsayer. I don’t deal in predictions. I usually write my column early in the week. I try to get a feel for what might transpire later on in the week.

How was I supposed to know that the Phillies would be so carried away with winning the National League East that they would fail to win a single game in their best-of-five series against the Colorado Rockies?

That’s right. On the morning that I declared how my son had finally embraced baseball, the region was still licking its wounds over the fact that the Phils had gone meekly in three straight games. Yes, my son and I huddled by the TV late on that Saturday night and cursed our fate. Get used to it, I informed him. It comes with the territory.

Being a Phillies fans — hell, being a Philadelphia sports fan — is never easy.

Which brings me to today, and the reason for this third installment in a sports troika.It has to do with sports, in particular pro sports, and how this newspaper covers them.There was one thing I could be sure of in all the giddiness that surrounded the Phillies and their march to the playoffs.I knew that I would receive complaints from some dedicated readers.

They are the same readers who call me just about every Monday in the fall and winter to voice their discontent over our Eagles coverage.It’s not that they aren’t interested in reading about the games and fans. They just don’t want it on their front page.

I make a lot of decisions here every day. But easily the most important one I make is what is going to appear on our front page. We use it as a billboard to sell the newspaper. It’s incredibly valuable real estate.Some readers believe we cheapen it when we use our lead Page One space for a sports story.As one caller informed me last week: “They already have the Back Page, isn’t that enough? Let’s try to reserve the front page for news.”

I feel your pain.Yes, we led the paper several days last week with the Phillies. They were our lead element each day Monday through Thursday. And each day, I got at least one call from readers complaining about our choice of a sports story to lead the paper.

That streak was snapped on Saturday. That’s because on Friday they buried Michael Reagan, the volunteer firefighter from Sharon Hill who was killed in the line of duty.

It did not go unnoticed that the Phillies did not play on that Friday.It wouldn’t have mattered. Even if they had played, the services for Reagan still would have been our lead for Saturday.

I had already decided that when I looked at the schedule earlier in the week.

That was really a pretty easy decision to make. Some days it’s not that easy. Take today for instance. Unless something big happened, I would guess as I write this on Wednesday that our lead item on Page One today was the Eagles.

Let’s hope it’s a win. If it’s another loss, they may not be such big news much longer.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The dreaded Eagles Pick

Remember the Eagles?

Bunch of guy in green jerseys?

Between the Phillies and the Bye Week (Weak?) we kind of forgot about Gang Green.

Last time we saw them against the Giants they were more like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Donovan McNabb spent more time on his back than a suntan model.

Ironically, the Birds head right back to the scene of the crime Sunday when they trek back up the Jersey Turnpike to the Meadowlands to tangle with the New York Jets.

This is not a good football team. Unfortunately, right now neither are the Eagles. But they certainly are healthier than they were when they faced the Giants. William Thomas should be back manning Donovan McNabb's blind side at left tackle. And most importantly, Brian Westbrook is expected to be back, providing the fizz in the Eagles' offense.

Make this one another typical ugly Giants Stadium affair, with the Eagles eeking out a 17-16 win.

Of course, I haven't gotten an Eagles game right so far this year. I figure I'm due. I better be. Lose this gmae and it might be time to start breaking out those old orange and black jerseys we put away years ago , back when they actually played ice hockey in this town.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 12

The Daily Numbers: 18,546 senior citizens in Delco who could have their property tax bills wiped out under a plan floated by Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila.

1 billion dollars in tax relief the plan would deliver.

40,000, if you make less than that a year and you’re over 65, under Pezel’s plan your taxes would disappear.

30 air-powered guns and other weapons found in the bedroom of a 14-year-old who is now at the center of what is believed to have been a "Columbine" style threat against Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

4 hand grenades also found in the teen’s bedroom.

2 state troopers among 5 people injured in an accident that shut down westbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway overnight.

4 hours, what some trapped motorists spent sitting, or sleeping, in their cars overnight on the Schuylkill near the Conshocken exit.

2 girls who have escaped abduction attempts in Wilmington. Neither victim was harmed. But police have issued an alert to parents as they look to track down suspects.

8 people sickened by a mysterious odor at Reading Hospital.

189,000 square feet, the site of the former Strawbridge’s in Springfield Mall, now slated to become a new Target store.

18 of 19 wins for the Colorado Rockies, who took Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last night in Phoenix. Guess that sweep of the Phillies wasn’t a fluke.

2 straight games missed by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who is struggling with a neck stinger. He is likely going to miss his third straight against the Jets Sunday.

7 points put up by Garnet Valley last night in their 13-7 loss to Unionville.

2 Phillies who won’t be back next year. Yesterday the club declined to pick up the options on Rod Barajas and Abraham Nunez.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody remember the Eagles? If they don’t win Sunday, we might just be forgetting the rest of the season as well.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Yeah, the fans in Philadelphia are really terrible. Littering the field with water bottles and debris. Oh, that was Phoenix? Never mind.

Today’s Upper: There will be an anti-violence rally at Chester High this afternoon. It’s a good message and one that needs to be heard.

Quote Box: "Seniors are the most unfairly affected by property tax increases and reassessments."
-- Pa. Rep. John Perzel, on his plan to wipe out that burden.

A senior moment

John Perzel is about to become a very popular guy in Delaware County. At least among senior citizens.

He just might wind up being AARP’s Man of the Year.

And why is that? Simple. Perzel says he has a plan to eliminate their school property taxes.

You should remember Perzel. He’s the former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The Republican from Northeast Philly has, as they say in the halls of the state Capitol, clout. When he says something, people listen.

Perzel said something this week that no doubt will be greeted with hosannas by senior citizens all across the state. But especially so here in Delaware County.

That’s because for years elderly homeowners have complained to their elected representatives about the increasing burden of their property taxes, the basic building block of most local school budgets.

It’s pretty simple really. As state contributions to local education budgets declined, school boards were forced to find new avenues to raise the needed revenue. Most of the time they turned to property taxes.

That has taken a huge toll on senior citizens and others on fixed incomes. And that has been a particularly brutal burden here in Delaware County.

Any number of politicians have tried to address the issue. We even elected Ed Rendell governor because he said he had a solution to the problem. And he got the Legislature to approve casino gambling in the state for the revenue.

Enter Perzel. He’s looking at all that loot the casinos are raking in. And he knows what he wants to do with it.

His proposal is a fairly simple one. If you’re a homeowner over 65 and have an income under $40,000, you would pay no property taxes.
Nothing. Nada. Zippo.

Perzel estimates that would wipe out tax bills for 18,546 in Delaware County. And another 92,000 seniors in Philadelphia. Statewide, the number swells to 600,000.

Perzel estimates his plan will deliver $1 billion in tax relief.
It will also deliver a lot of smiles on the faces of senior citizens.
Of course, this is not the first time a proposal has been floated in Pennsylvania to ease property taxes.

But this is one of the most interesting. One local Democrat, Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, has already indicated he’s ready to back the Republican’s proposal.

Keep an eye on this one.

If successful, it could do something that has been promised by those in Harrisburg for years.

But has yet to be fully delivered.

Lament of a Philly fan

It’s bad enough the Phillies got swept in three straight by the Colorado Rockies.

Yep, Phillies Phever had a short shelf life.

But it was great while it lasted. And it proves again that Philadelphia sports fans get a bum rap.

The opener of the National League Championship Series between the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks was played last night in Phoenix.

There are a couple of things you should know about the game. First, it was not sold out. Not even close. They’re saying the D-Backs actually were giving away tickets to fill the house.

Can you imagine such a thing ever happening in Philly? Didn’t think so?
The fans here can be called many things. Not supportive of their team, not packing the place for crucial games, is not among them.

Now comes the good part. The rest of the nation continues to heap abuse on the Philadelphia fan. Yes, we booed Santa Claus. Hey, he deserved it. He was a lousy Santa.

But we’ve never caused a halt in a playoff game, in which both teams retreated to the safety of their dugouts.

That’s what happened last night in Phoenix.

After a close call on a play at second base in which runner interference was called on the Diamondbacks, resulting in a double play, the fans went bananas.

They showered the field with water bottles and debris.

Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle waved his players into the dugout. Eventually, umpire crew chief Tim McClelland cleared the field. The nationally televised game was delayed eight minutes.

Of course, such things only happen in Philadelphia. Can you imagine the reaction if such an event took place here?

The fans would be tarred and feathered. Again. We’d hear the same old litany of stale events that is always thrown in our face.

Will the same be said of fans in Phoenix? Not likely.

They didn’t think enough of their team to sell the place out in the first place, then act horrifically once they got inside.

In the meantime, we’re again waiting for next year.

And waiting for someone in the national media to say the fans here get a bum rap.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 11

The Daily Numbers: 200 officials who gathered yesterday at Garnet Valley High School for the annual Safe Schools Summit.

4 people shot by a teen gunman at a Cleveland high school yesterday. He then killed himself.

2 revolvers and three knives carried into SuccessTech Academy alternate school by Asa H. Coon.

8 shots fired by the youth, who had been suspended from the school earlier in the week.

0, the property tax bill for homeowners age 65 and up with income of $40,000 or less under a plan to be unveiled by state Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila., today. The money would come from casinos.

10.6 percent dip in casino revenue at Atlantic City gaming parlors. They continue to blame new competition from ventures such as the new slots parlors in Pa., including Harrah’s in Chester.

5 billion dollars, amount set to be spent by MGM Mirage to build a glittering 3,000-room casino hotel in Atlantic City. Somebody must be making money.

20, age of student who reported being sexually assaulted in a music practice room at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J..

200 protesters who showed up at a school board meeting in Downingtown, Chester County, Wednesday night to support teachers who have been working without a contract and are now threatening to hit the bricks.

7 million dollars, the asking price for the home of state Sen. Vince Fumo, D-Phila., which is on Green Street in the city’s Fairmount section.

17 pit bulls found amid evidence of dogfighting in a rundown industrial park in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. SPCA officials are now saying animal cruelty is an "epidemic" in the city.

315 people killed on the streets of Philadelphia so far in 2007. That compares with 313 at the same time last year. But, hey, they’re finally coming to grips with the trans fat problem.

400,000 dollars raised for the war on AIDS during a star-studded tennis event Wednesday night at Villanova University headed by Elton John and Billie Jean King.

8 goals pumped in by the Flyers last night in Vancouver as they hammered the Canucks, 8-2.

103 million dollars, what Phillies officials expect their payroll to be next year. For that kind of money, you think they could win one stinking playoff game?

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Don’t look now, but this Flyers team could be pretty good. And Daniel Briere just might be zooming to the top of the list of superstars who have come to Philly and played up to their ability.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): They substituted the trans fats in bakeries in Philadelphia, and guess what? The confections tasted lousy. One well-known confectioner said his cannolis "tasted like crayons." But, hey, they’re so much better for you.

Today’s Upper: Yes, the weather is finally turning chilly. But so far, I haven’t heard any TV predictions on when we can expect our first snow. Wonder how long that will last?

Quote Box: "It was a powerful message to our audience."
-- Delco D.A. Mike Green on the presentation by Capt. Jack Laufer at Wednesday’s Delco Safe Schools Summit on how Pa. state police responded to the massacre at the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse last year.

An unsettling juxtaposition

The timing was more than a little ironic. It was downright chilling.

Yesterday more than 200 education and law enforcement officials in Delaware County gathered at Garnet Valley High School for the 11th annual Delaware County Safe Schools Summit.

It was the brain-child of former D.A. and now U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan. It has been embraced and expanded by current District Attorney Mike Green. Each year for more than a decade the summit has convened with a single goal: Keeping our kids safe while they’re in school.

The focus in the last couple of years has been to develop a single method of response to a potential incident. Officials refer to it as the One Plan.

Thankfully, it has not yet been necessary to implement here in Delaware County.

Tragically, we were reminded again yesterday that’s not the case everywhere.

Even as law enforcement officials were going through a table-top exercise involving several training scenarios at local schools, their colleagues in Cleveland were dealing with the real thing. With deadly results.

A troubled 14-year-old gunman literally was opening fire in an alternative high school in Cleveland as officials here plotted their strategy to deal with what most of us continue to think of as "the unthinkable."

In Cleveland, the student wounded four people – including two teachers – before turning the gun on himself, taking his own life.

The young man, who authorities say had been suspended from school for fighting, managed to get several guns into SuccessTech Academy. He is believed to have specifically targeted the two teachers he shot. He also opened fire on students as several hid in closets or bathrooms during the short reign of terror.

A familiar outline is now developing concerning the gunman. He was a kid with problems, somebody who apparently was picked on by other students. "He used to cuss out all the teachers," one classmate said of Asa H. Coon.

It is an image that haunts the country, as well as school and law enforcement officials here in Delaware County.

That’s why the lessons learned at Wednesday’s 11th summit are so valuable.

District Attorney Mike Green plans to report the results of the "one-plan" emergency response initiative to all municipal, police and school officials.

There’s a part of us who want to imagine that these things will not happen here. That this is something that other areas face, but we don’t.

The truth is, these kinds of deadly scenarios could happen anywhere. The lessons learned at the Safe Schools Summits will prove invaluable should a Delco school ever face the unthinkable.

Perhaps the last place any of us ever expected to see shattered by this kind of violence was just a short drive away. Those attending yesterday’s summit were reminded that violence can take place where we least expect it.

Capt. Jack Laufer of the Troop J Barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police briefed Delco officials on the state police response after a crazed gunman invaded a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County and opened fire on innocent Amish schoolgirls. He killed five, wounded five and then himself. And in the process burned the words Nickel Mines into the national consciousness, right next to Columbine.

Some of those lessons now will be used for other "one-room" facilities, such as many day care centers.

Every school in Delaware County should be well-versed in the "one-plan" response.

And hope to God they never have to put it into practice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Oct. 10

The Daily Numbers: 359 bucks worth of stuff police say the Upper Darby grandma "lifted" from the 69th Street Sears store with the unwitting help of her granddaughter.

4 years old, age of the little girl who police say was being used by her grandmom in the scam.

3 years old, age of girl who slipped from a pier in South Philadelphia and drowned in the Schuylkill River.

2 dollars per bag handling fee on luggage being handled by skycaps at Philly International Airport. Skycaps, who make $2.83 per hour and have to hustle for a living, say the new fee is cutting into their livelihood.

100 jobs being moved by Comcast from Connecticut to its new HQ under construction in center city Philadelphia. They’re management jobs with their Versus network.

7 billion being spent by Newtown Square-based SAP to buy Business Objects SA, based in Paris and San Jose, Calif.

5,500 faculty members at state-owned universities such as West Chester and Cheyney who will not be going out on strike. They approved a new deal by a vote of 2,699-1,172.

15, age of teen shot and killed by Philadelphia police after he confronted them with a clothes iron. The way police responded is now under review.

300 people who turned out to pay their respects to one of two armored truck guards slain in a heist in North Philadelphia last week.

139 cases of salmonella being linked to Banquet pot pies in 30 states, including Pennsylvania. ConAgra has stopped production at the plant that produced the items.

3 white high school students who will be suspended or expelled in Lititz, Lancaster County, for spewing racial slurs at a group of black students.

16 million dollars now up for grabs in the next Mega Millions jackpot drawing Friday night.

2 more years for Charlie Manuel as skipper of the Phillies. He got an extension, and the club has the option for a third year.

20 million dollars the amount the Atlanta Falcons are going to recoup from disgraced star QB Michael Vick, who has pleaded guilty to this role in a dogfighting ring.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Do I think Charlie Manuel is a brilliant strategist? Not exactly. But anyone who believes the Phillies were going to make a change after what the Phils did in rallying to take the National League East crown doesn’t really understand baseball. But Charlie better hope the team doesn’t get off to another slow start next year.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): On Tuesday Philadelphia City Council was dealing with a possible mandate for local eateries to list nutritional information on their menus. Today they are once again dealing with the trans fat issue. All in a city where the homicide rate is going through the roof and people are beginning to feel unsafe on city streets. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: The news is in from the National Weather Service in terms of the winter forecast. Temperatures for the region are expected to be above normal. They are quick to indicate that does not necessarily translate into a lack of snow. We can only hope.

Quote Box: "Not only is this lady a grandmom stealing from Sears, she’s stealing this child’s innocence."
-- Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, on the case of grandmom arrested in shoplifting case in which she is believed to have used her 4-year-old granddaughter as an accomplice.

The tale of the tape

In another instance the incident probably would have gotten a couple of lines in the Police Blotter of the newspaper. If that. Retail theft cases don’t usually gather all that much attention.

But the case against Monica Vitale wasn’t just a routine case of shoplifting.

Vitale made several crucial errors, according to the case laid out against her by police.

Vitale, a 42-year-old grandmother, allegedly had an accomplice.
That would be her 4-year-old granddaughter.

Vitale was caught on videotape in the Sears store on 69th Street. She is seen calmly walking through the store, helping herself to items through the old "five-fingered discount."

That’s one thing. But that’s not all the videotape captured. The 4-year-old clearly can be seen taking a couple of items from Vitale and placing them in their baby stroller she was pushing, and then covering them up with other items.

In other words, according to police, Vitale had enlisted the 4-year-old as her partner in crime.

Vitale was seen on the store video surveillance system not once, but twice. She first hit the joint Sunday night. When store security noticed her, she fled with the little girl.

But she came back on Monday and the store and police were ready.

The mistake --- among many – Vitale made was her choice of location.
Police say she decided to run her scam just a few blocks from her home.
She was caught in the act in the 69th Street Sears store. That’s Upper Darby Township. Mike Chitwood’s turf.

Big mistake.

Chitwood called a press conference Tuesday morning and offered his own take on Vitale’s enterprise. Let’s just say he wasn’t terribly complimentary.

Vitale’s act showed up on just about every television station in town. She is on the front page of this newspaper this morning.

No doubt some will complain that the newspaper is once again in cahoots with "Media Mike."

You bet we are.

Say what you want about Chitwood. Does he use the media? Sure he does.

But he’s also delivering a message, one that other towns might want to emulate.

He makes it clear that he’s personally insulted when such shenanigans go on under his nose.

And those who would commit such acts should know something else: Get busted by Chitwood, and you’re going to pay a price. If the system doesn’t do it to you, Chitwood will make sure the word gets out.

Not everyone is a fan of Chitwood and the way he handles his department.

Me? I kind of wish every department in Delco was run that way.
I am guessing Monica Vitale is not a big fan. I am also fairly sure she might think twice about doing something like this again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Of fathers and sons and baseball

Here's a copy of my print column from this week. My timing remains impeccable, writing about baseball and the sheer joy the Phillies provided by winning the N.L. East just a day after they disappeared from the playoffs by losing three straight to the Rockies. but that's not really what the column is about. See for yourself.

4:37 p.m. last Sunday. Citizens Bank Park. Brett Myers. Wily Mo Pena.

Oct. 23, 1993. The Toronto Skydome. Mitch Williams. Joe Carter.

Oct. 21, 1980. Veterans Stadium. Tug McGraw. Willie Wilson.

Three Phillies moments. Three different decades.

I have a tendency to view my life through sports. Specifically Philadelphia sports. Many people, including no shortage of readers of this newspaper, probably would tell you that I place too much significance on these grown men playing games designed for little boys.

They are, of course, entirely correct. They likely would remind me that I spent this same space just last week regaling readers with what I consider the greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history.

That pretty much sums up my sense of timing. The entire Delaware Valley is coming down with a serious case of Phillies Fever, having just witnessed the Phillies put away the Nationals to claim the National League crown, and I choose that time to inform them of an Eagles moment that I believe stands as the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history.

Last Sunday that list grew by one.

Funny thing about these moments: I can tell you exactly what I was doing during each of them.

But I suppose I can tell you that I also know what I was doing during one other stretch of time indelibly marked on those of a certain age who happen to be, as I am, Phillies fans.

It was the last two weeks of September 1964. And like my favorite team, I was slowly dying.

That was the span, with a six-and-a-half game lead with 12 to play, that the Phillies went belly up, coughing up the lead and creating the shroud that has covered the area’s sports fans for more than four decades.

Right up until last Sunday. That’s because not only did the Phillies win the NL East, we also bathed in the glow of watching our ignominy in one of the greatest collapses in sports history supplanted by the New York Mets.

The Ghost of 1964 took the short drive up the New Jersey Turnpike.

I got my love of Philly sports, and the Phillies, from my father. He’s the only man I’ve ever known who would rather listen to a game on the radio that watch it on TV. He bequeathed that to me as well.

I have in turn passed on that love of sports to my son. He is a huge fan. Of the Eagles. And the Flyers. And the Sixers.

But for whatever reason, I could never get him to embrace his father’s love of baseball.

Baseball was in fact my first love. It was the sport I spent hours playing as a kid. Yes, my passion for the Eagles runs deep, but the Phillies will always be closest to my heart.

I thought maybe it was a generational thing. These kids grew up on video games and the Internet. Baseball, the only major sport conducted without a clock, moves at its own pace. Slowly, languidly, like a steamy summer night.

Like my own father, there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting on the porch on a thick, humid summer night listening to the Phils on the radio.

My son never particularly liked to play baseball; he considered watching it on TV a form of punishment. Listen on the radio? He was sure that a sign of my mental instability.

I had to convince him to give Little League a shot. He lasted only a few years.
He’d snidely snort at me when I told him baseball was a thinking man’s game. Too slow. Too boring. Not enough action, he would inform me.

Oh, he’d still follow the game. He’d know the stats and the standings, even if he did get them from ESPN or the Internet instead of the newspaper or the back of a baseball card.

And that’s the way it went each year. Until this summer. Then something magical happened. The boy who wanted nothing more than to be different than his old man, who was irked every time a family member commented that his countenance and even his mannerisms reminded them of his father, now shared one other trait with his dad.

He became a baseball fan. And a Phillies-phile.

Times change. Some other things don’t. Last Sunday, I spent much of the day with my son, capping a week that will be long remembered by many fathers and sons.

I told him that when he gets older, he likely will remember exactly what he was doing at times like these. Just as his dad does.

Oh, and he likely will remember the day for one other reason. The boy who never liked baseball will always remember that the Phillies won the National League East crown on his 18th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Sean.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Years gone by

Every time a Philly team visits Denver, it brings back a lot of memories.

Somewhere in the back of a closet, I have a piece of paper that says I'm a graduate of the University of Colorado. That's in Boulder, about a half hour away from Denver.

It was the late '70s, and I'm told Denver and Boulder are both much different places today. The downtown area where Coors Field now sits was kind of a ghost town back then. I always thought of Denver as one of the smallest "big" cities I had ever been in.

Nobody lived downtown. And pretty much everyone went home at 5 o'clock.

One thing obviously has not changed. The weather can be very nice in the Mile High Region, but fairly unpredictable. So no, I was not surprised when that storm blew in, dropping the temperature about 20 degrees just as the Phillies-Rockies playoff game was getting started.

I distinctly remember driving into the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 west of Denver one day heading for a day on the ski slopes. We entered the tunnel on the eastern end amid brilliant sunshine, and exited on the other side, which is also the other side of the Continental Divide, to blizzard condtions.

It's that kind of town.

And no, I wasn't terribly surprised when the lights went out in the stadium in the second inning. After all, the lights had gone out on the Phils offense in this series a long time ago.

How sweep it ain't. The Phils lost three straight. Maybe we celebrated winning the National League East too much. Maybe we exerted so much energy in overhauling the heated New York Mets we had nothing left.

At any rate, just as it does every year, next year has arrived for Phillies fans.

It didn't end on a Rocky Mountain High. Maybe it's just as well. They're calling for snow showers today in the Denber area.

Yeah, that's the town I remember.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Live Blog on the Phillies

6:37 You've got to be kidding me. Ryan Howard looks at strike three, right down the middle. Game, set and match. Phils lose, 10-5, and are staring up from a huge hole. They're down 2-0 and head to Denver, where the Rockies have been unbeatable. Don't look for them to return to Citizens Bank Park this fall.

6:37 Utley singles to left-center. Pat Burrell up. Pat the Bat smacks a single to left. Two on, two out. Ryan Howard coming up.

6:35 Coste lines out to center. One out. Rollins taps out to second. Two down.

6:31 Another nice effort from J.C. Romero, who put the Rockies down in order in the ninth. OK, here it is. Crunch time. As I said, the Phils simply can't go to Denver down three games to none. They have three outs to do otherwise.

6:24 No dice. Weak grounder to short. Phils leave 'em loaded. Three outs left.

6:20 Hold everything. A sliver of hope. Phils have bases loaded with 2 out in the eighth. Rockies making a pitching change.

6:08 Rockies go meekly in 8th. Three outs left. Phils need a miracle. Some base runners wouldn't hurt, either.

6:03 Leaping grab by Jimmy Rollins ends another threat from Rockies. No damage, but can this team hit the ball or what?

5:56 Six more outs to go. Phils go down with no more damage in the 7th.

5:52 Shane Victorino has a pinch-hit single, then steals second and goes to third when no one covers and the throw goes into center field. Rollins dribbles one down the first-base line. He's out, but the run scores. 10-5 Rockies.

5:42 The Rockies hit parade continues. Brad Hawpe singles off Clay Condrey. Ryan Spilborghs does likewise. But Condrey gets a ground ball back to the box to start an inning-ending doubleplay.

5:37 Nothing else for Phils in the 6th. They're still down six. This team simply cannot go to Denver down 2-0 in this series. Looks like all the hassle of that Sunday night game may not even be necessary.

5:30 Some life yet. Ryan Howard smokes a ball out to dead center. Make it 10-4, Rockies.

5:25 Clay Condrey isn't much better. That's a liner to center and two more runs score. Make it 10-3 Rockies after 6.

5:16 Nothing like Jose Mesa to throw a little gas on the fire. This team's success over the last month was based on Romero, Gordon and Myers. Not Jose Mesa. He gave up a double. That brought Manuel out to get Mesa, and that was followed by another double into the gap for all-world Kaz Matasui. It's now 8-3 Rockies. Can you say Phlattened?

5:07 Swing and a miss. Burrell misses badly on changeup. Another whiff for the Phlailing Phils. 6-3 Rockies after 5.

5:01 Finally, Chase Utley slaps one into center for his first hit of the series. He's aboard with two out for Burrell.

4:57 Jimmy Rollins at the plate. We need him now, being as how he's the only guy who seems to have showed up today. No dice. Tulowitzki gets to the grounder up the middle and fires to first to get Rollins.

4:53 Lohse puts the Rockies down 1-2-3 in the 5th.

4:45 Phils go down in order in the 4th. Now they need somebody to hold the Rockies in check.

4:37 Oh, no. What a terrible sound. Kaz Matsui just took Lohse out of the yard for a grand slam. Rockies lead, 6-3. Pass the Pepto.

4:31 Squibber down the third-base line. No play. Rockies have the bases loaded, Two out. Charlie Manuel is headed to the mound. That's going to be all for Kendrick. Looks like Kyle Lohse will get the call.

4:24 Kendrick in trouble again. Double to lead off 4th. Then a liner to left corralled by Pat Burrell.

4:17 Ouch! Ryan Howard gets plunked with a pitch. Then to add insult to injury he gets picked off first. Nothing for Phils in the third.

4:11 Matsui's stranded at second. No runs for the Rocks, as Kendrick looks like he might be getting stronger.

4:02 Kaz Matsui promptly opens third by launching one off the wall in center. Double.

3:58: Utley finally makes contact, flies out to deep center. 3-2 Phils after 2.

3:56 MVP! MVP! MVP! Jimmy Rollins rips a ball into the gap in left-center and the Phils are in front for the first time in the series, 3-2.

3:53 Slow chopper to second but Helms does not go for the plate. Two outs.

3:50 Now we're cooking. Double for Ruiz over the center-fielder's head. Dobbs to third with one out.

3:43 Nothing for Rockies in the 2nd. Phils need offense.

3:31: Kendrick opens 2nd with a walk, then gets a ground ball right back to the box. He gets the out at second, but Chase Utley fires it wide of first. This is fast becoming a nightmare series for Utley.

3:26 No more damage for Phils. Burrell walks, but Ryan Howard fans, Aaron Rowand bounces out. Where did this team's offense go?

3:20 Chase Utley picks up where he left off yesterday, striking out. That's now five straight Ks for Utley.

3:18 Jimmy Rollins in J-Rolling again. Rollins hits homer on the first pitch from Rockies young pitcher Franklin Morales. 2-1 Rockies.

3:14 Fly ball to Rowand to end the inning. No doubt about it, Phils need to start hitting. They're down 2-0 and this does not have the makings of a very long outing for Kendrick.

3:11 Well, so much for the good news. Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday go back-to-back homers off Kendrick. This is not a good thing. Holliday crushed his ball to dead left.

3:10: First pitch from rookie Kyle Kendrick is outside for a ball. Kaz Matsui then grounds out. So far, so good. That's a very good sign, since Kendrick's bread and butter is the ground ball.

2:37: Here are the starting lineups for today's game:

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Pat Burrell, LF
Ryan Howard, 1B
Aaron Rowand, CF
Jayson Werth, RF
Wes Helms, 3B
Carlos Ruiz, C
Kyle Kendrick, RHP

Kazuo Matsui, 2B
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Matt Holliday, LF
Todd Helton, 1B
Garrett Atkins, 3B
Brad Hawpe, RF
Ryan Spilborghs, CF
Yorvit Torrealba, C
Franklin Morales, LHP

2:33: OK, here we go again. Yesterday is over. Today is a new day. Besides we have our "ace" on the mound.

That would be that kiddie wunderkind Kyle Kendrick.

It's 80 degrees out and the sun is shining. Bring on the Rockies.

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 4

The Daily Numbers: 0 hits for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard yesterday. Not going to win many games when that happens.

4 times Utley whiffed in one of the most dismal games of his career.

13 pitches, all it took for Utley to go down four times.

15 at-bats for the top four guys in the Phillies lineup yesterday. They produced zero hits.

2 homers for the Phils, when Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell went back-to-back. It’s all the offense they managed all afternoon.

2.4 million dollars in visitor spending the baseball playoffs are expected to bring into the region. Hey, even when we lose we win.

250,000 dollars in federal aid authorities Montgomery County want to get their hands on to continue their crackdown against illegal poker machines in local taverns.

4 cats and 16 dogs taken from a reeking home on Horrocks Street in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia. The owners are facing animal cruelty charges. Neighbors had been complaining about odors emanating from the residence. Ya think?

4 incidents under investigation in Philadelphia in which a taxi cab driver has held up his passengers. Talk about turning the tables.

3 armored car guards were shot in a heist in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia near the Roosevelt Mall this morning. One is believed to have died.

1,000 men who have answered the call for volunteers to patrol city streets in Philadelphia.

100,000 dollars in props and costumes of the Greater Kensington String Band that went up in smoke in an arson fire that swept through a warehouse.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Did anyone else have the distinct feeling of the Eagles vs. Tampa Bay during yesterday’s disappointing playoff opener for the Phils against the Rockies?

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The mayors of Philly and Denver, as politicians often do, are making a wager on the baseball playoffs. Only John Street could come up with this. The stakes? Three trees and a sandwich. If the Phils win, we get three trees and a buffalo burger. If the Rockies take it, we’ll send them three trees and a cheesesteak. Really going out on a limb there, your honors.

Today’s Upper: Phillies Phever is good for you. Officially. A health and exercise prof at Rowan University says the whole thing has an uplifting effect on the region’s psyche. Unless they lose again this afternoon, of course. Then there will be guards posted on all area bridges.

Quote Box: "I expect virtually no one at the ballpark will be rooting for him outside of his parents, grandfather, uncle, girlfriend and one of his sisters …. We’re going with our Groucho glasses."
-- Fred Buchholz, father of Taylor Buchholz, the former Springfield High star and 2000 Daily Times Player of the Year who now pitches for the Colorado Rockies.

What is important

So the Phillies lost the opener of their National League Division Series to the Rockies. They did not play well. They disappointed the faithful who packed Citizens Bank Park. The top of their lineup, the guys who carried them all year, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, were dreadful. Utley struck out four times.

There are bigger things in life.

A lot of readers tell me we pay entirely too much attention to sports. "Keep it on the Back Page," is their mantra. They don’t want it all over the front page as well.

It’s a juggling act, these decisions that we make here each day.

But the readers make a good point.

Yes, it’s nice to be swept up with Phillies Phever.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of what is really important.

Like what is going to happen this afternoon and tomorrow here in Delaware County.

Family, friends and firemen from all across the state will descend on Delaware County to pay their respects to one of their own who fell in the line of duty.

Michael Reagan was just 19 years old. He died last week of injuries he suffered while battling a fire in a garage in Sharon Hill.

We likely will take a photo of the viewing for Reagan this afternoon. We will probably keep our distance and give the family the privacy they deserve.

We will offer full coverage of tomorrow’s funeral.

I have said before, the normal policy of the newspaper is that we don’t cover funerals. But as with almost every rule at the newspaper, there are exceptions.

Tomorrow will be one of them.

Michael Reagan deserves it.

It reminds us of what is really important.

Crying in their beer

Phillies fans are crying in their beer this morning.

But look on the bright side. At some point in the near future, when the next Philly team does an el foldo and you feel the need to imbibe, you could pick up that six-pack at your neighborhood beer distributor.
That would be a radical change for the Keystone State.

For all you teetotalers out there, let me try to explain.

Pennsylvania has a particularly arcane way of selling alcohol, beer included.

If you want wine or liquor, you must visit one of the "state" stores that sell those items. But they won’t sell you beer. For that you must visit your neighborhood beer distributor. But only if you want a case. That can’t sell you a six-pack. If you want to grab a quick six, you need to head to your local deli or tavern. And take your wallet. You’re likely going to pay through the nose for that privilege.

If you’re in the supermarket or convenience and are thinking about picking up some booze while you’re there, forget it. You can’t buy beer or alcohol there, unless you happen to be in one of the supermarkets where there is a state store inside. They’re few and far between.

All this galls a lot of Pennsylvanians to no end, especially when we visit other states and see how easy it is to get what we want – and enjoy responsibly – at any number of locations.

In the checkout line of the supermarket and want to grab a quick six? No problem? Want to buy beer and wine in the same place? They’ve got your covered.

Now it appears there may be a sliver of light at the end of Pennsylvania’s arcane tunnel of alcohol sales.

On Wednesday a Senate committee approved a bill that would expand the spots where you can buy beer. Simply put, those beer distributors that can now only sell beer by the case could offer you a six-pack.

Tavern owners likely aren’t going to be happy about this. So there’s something in it for them, too. They would be allowed to sell as many as three six-packs at a time, up from the current limit of two.

It still has to be approved by the full Senate and then make it through the House, but it’s a start.

Is it the end of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and turning over alcohol sales to private enterprise? No, but it’s a start.

And the way the Phillies played yesterday, it can’t come fast enough.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Game 1: Live Blogging the Phils

6:02 Pat Burrell flies to right. Phils lose, 4-2. It took them less than three hours to do it. The heart of the Phils offense, their Nos. 3-4-5 guys in the lineup did nothing against the Rockies. They need to change that, starting tomorrow, or they will be looking at a quick exit.

5:57: Howard called out on strikes to start the ninth. He's not a happy camper and lets the home plate umpire know about it. Rowand taps out weakly to second. Down to their last out.

5:53 Myers strikes out the side in ninth, along with infield hit and another single to center. Those are the Rockies' first hits since the 2nd inning. It's now or never as Phils bat in the 9th.

5:45 Brett Myers on to pitch the ninth and strikes out Hawpe to start the inning.

5:42 Very tough day for Chase Utley. He strikes out for fourth time, looking, to end the eighth and strand a runner on first. Phils down to final three outs.

5:38 Bad at-bat for Jimmy Rollins, who goes after questionable pitch on 3-1 count and pops out meekly to short.

5:35 Get the rally caps out. Tadahito Iguchi leads off the bottom of the eighth with a walk.

5:30 J.C. Romero retires the Rockies in the 8th without any more damage, thanks in large part to huge play by Jimmy Rollins to end the inning. Phils need offense.

5:25 Not good. Matt Holliday just crushed a Tom Gordon pitch into the seats in left-center. That will end Gordon's day. And it leaves the Phils now staring at a 4-2 deficit.

5:20 Nothing for Phils in 7th. Carlos Ruiz ends inning by hitting into double-play. Gordon still in to open the eighth. It's getting late.

5:10 Pitching change for the Rockies, Jeff Francis' day is over.

5:06 Gordon strikes out Rockie to end the top of the 7th.

5:01 That's the end of the day for Hamels. He's lifted with two out in the 7th, with runner on second. It's now in Tom Gordon's hands. Hamels was solid except for the 2nd inning, when he gave up all three runs.

4:53 Nothing for Phils in the 6th. Utley strikes out, Howard flies to right, Rowand flies to left. 3-2 after six.

4:46 Hamels is really rolling now, putting Colorado down in order in 6th. He's now retired 13 in a row with 7 strikeouts.

4:39 No more for Phils in 5th, although they did get a man to second. 3-2 after 5.

4:30 Make that a one-run game. Pat Burrell hits a high fly ball to left that barely clears the left-field wall. Back-to-back home runs. I'm not complaining, even though the talking heads on TV are saying it's the only park in the league it would have gone out of. Yeah, like Coors Field is a real pitchers' paradise.

4:28 The Phils are on the board, as Aaron Rowand take Francis out to right field.

4:24 Big-time play from Wes Helms diving to his left to take a hit away from the Rockies. Nothing from Colorado in the 5th. Hamels has settled down and is now cruising. Phils need some offense.

4:21 Ryan Howard fans to end the fourth. That's 7 K's for the Phils, who haven't managed an ounce of offense yet.

4:12 Rockies go meekly 1-2-3 against Hamels in the 4th.

4:07 Nothing in the third. Rollins hits into inning-ending double-play. This is typically Philly. Is this the offensive machine that battered Franics a couple of times this year? This has all the makings of Eagles vs. Tampa Bay. Letdown city.

4:05 Hamels delivers the first hit off Francis with a liner to left. One out in the bottom of third.

4:00: Hamels handles the Rockies in the 3rd. Phils still looking for first hit. Hell, they haven't hit anything out of the infield yet.

3:54: Put away the rally caps. Wes Helms popped out to short right. Inning over.

3:51 Hey, the Phils put one in play. Aaron Rowand grounded out to short. And they finally have a base-runner as Pat Burrell works a walk.

3:29 Hamels seriously struggling. Walks in a run. Phils down 3-0. Next batter crushes ball out of the joint but foul. That exhale you just heard is 45,000 fans rejoicing over what could have been a killer grand slam. Hamels strikes out guy to finally get out of inning.

3:30: Hamels is struggling. Phils now trail 2-0 after a walk and a single. Hamels needs to settle down.

3:25: Garrett Atkins smokes a ball down the left-field line and the Rockies take a 1-0 lead. Those two balls were both scorched.

3:23: Todd Helton blast first pitch of second inning to dead center. Off the wall. Helton easily into third with a triple.

3:21 Ruh-Roh. Rockies starter Jeff Francis strikes out the side. And Ryan Howard wasn’t even one of them. Sorry about that, Ryan.

3:19: MVP candidate Jimmy Rollins fans to start the bottom of the first.

3:14: So far, so good. Three up, three down for the Rockies. Hamels looks strong.

3:08: First pitch from Cole Hamels, fouled off by Kaz Matsui. Rally towels in full effect.

2:57: Here's the starting lineup for Rockies:
Kaz Matsui 2B
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Matt Holliday LF
Todd Helton 1B
Garrett Atkins 3B
Brad Hawpe RF
Ryan Spilborghs CF
Yorvit Torrealba C
Jeff Francis P

2:50: There is a great Delco angle to this playoff series, albeit one that likely has mixed emotions. Taylor Buchholz was the Daily Times Baseball Player of the Year in 2000.
Grew up in Springfield. Starred at Springfield High. Was a lifelong Phillies fan. And is now toiling in the bullpen for the Colorado Rockies.

Make sure you catch Tim Logue’s interview with Buchholz’s family in tomorrow’s Daily Times.

2:40: The wait is almost over. Not for the game. Fourteen long years of waiting to get back into the playoffs. Feels pretty damn good.

1:30 p.m.: Here's the starting lineup for the Phils for today's opener against the Rockies:

* Jimmy Rollins, shortstop
* Shane Victorino, right field
* Chase Utley, second base
* Ryan Howard, first base
* Aaron Rowand, centerfield
* Pat Burrell, left field
* Wes Helms, third base
* Carlos Ruiz, catcher
* Cole Hamels, pitcher.

Noon: Three hours before game time and, as suspected, no one is working today. Aside from us, I guess.

It looks like everyone else is already down at the stadium, taking part in the October-Phest.

We’ll try not to cheer too much with this thing this afternoon, unlike our counterparts on TV.

Keep the pom-poms in the closet, folks.


The Daily Numbers - Oct. 3

The Daily Numbers: 3:07 p.m., when life as we know it stops and the first pitch of the Phils-Rockies series is uncorked.

0 times Cole Hamels has faced the Rockies in his young career.

0 interest in the Eagles as the Phillies now own the town and the Birds limp into their Bye Week with a 1-3 record. Another couple of losses and they’ll be saying Bye to their season.

7 more days you have to register to vote to be able to cast a ballot in the November elections.

3 million dollars the Ridley School Board is borrowing to do roofing work at 7 buildings in the district.

2 more former officers of the Plymouth Ambulance Squad in Montgomery County who are going to jail in a scam in which they looted the organization’s coffers for more than $2 million.

400,000 dollars, what the state of New Jersey is paying to a former state trooper who says he was beaten and harassed by a secret group of rogue officers.

50 Taser stun guns being purchased by police in New Castle County, Delaware. Don’t mess with these folks. You could be in for a jolt.

400 people who plan to show up to protest the appearance today by President Bush in Lancaster County. Obviously none of them are Phillies fans.

45.78 stock price of Hershey Co. yesterday. That’s down more than 3 percent after their chief announced he would step down.

21 percent dip in sales reported by Ford in September.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. 14 years. That’s a long time to wait between playoff appearances. Enjoy it, folks.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Isiah Thomas says he is not just innocent of the sexual harassment charges a jury convicted him on yesterday. The boss of the NBA’s New York Knicks says he’s "very" innocent. Sounds like a guy who is protesting too much.

Today’s Upper: Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame at his alma mater, Souderton High School in Bucks County. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy and class act.

Quote Box: "They’re coming from all over. I even got an e-mail from a guy in Manchester, England."

-- Phillies director of fun and games John Brazer, on the huge demand for playoff tickets.

America's Pastime

Here’s today’s Phillies trivia question: Who are Don Orsillo and Joe Simpson?

No, they are not the 25th names on the Phillies’ and Rockies’ playoffs rosters.

They’re not on the grounds crew.

They don’t work for either team.

But they will be at the stadium today and they likely will have a big effect on your enjoyment of the game.

Orsillo and Simpson are calling the game for the TV broadcast on TBS.
Yes, that means you will not get the dulcet tones of Harry Kalas. At least not on TV. If you want to hear Harry the K and his mike-mates, Larry Anderson, Scott Franzke and Chris Wheeler, you’ll have to listen in on the radio. They’ll be calling the action on WPHT-1210 A.M.

Then again, if you don’t have cable, you might not have a choice. You won’t be able to hear Orsillo and Simpson, or watch the game on TV at all. That’s because Major League Baseball has awarded the National and American League Division Series exclusively to TBS. That’s cable.

We tried all day yesterday to find someone who does not have cable. We couldn’t find anyone. I am guessing we still will start to get frantic phone calls right after 3 this afternoon from people fidgeting with their TVs trying to figure out what station the game is on.

It’s simple. If you don’t have cable, it’s not going to be on your TV at all.
Cable TV. 9:30 and 10 p.m. starts.

Yeah, it’s America’s Pastime all right.

Making money.

I've got the Phever, yes I've got the Phever

Technically, I suppose, today is a work day.

Reality is another thing.

I’m wondering how much is going to get done in a lot of offices today. I’m also wondering if absenteeismm, both from work and school, jumps.
Blame Phillies Phever.

It’s likely to be rampant today.

There’s nothing like day baseball -- day playoff baseball -- on a gorgeous early fall afternoon to bring on some serious sniffles.

But at least we should be able to focus and get some things done until game time, 3 p.m., right?

Uh, not exactly.

The Phillies are conspiring to diminish output in the workplace, and contributing to some serious juvenile delinquency, luring kids out of school.

Good for them.

The Phillies don’t want fans to have to wait to enjoy a moment they’ve waited 14 years to experience again.

They’re getting the party started at noon with an October-Phest (if you haven’t noticed everything is spelled with a ‘ph’ these days) outside Citizens Bank Park.

And get this, you don’t even need a ticket. There will be music, free swings in their batting cage and ice cream samplings. And, of course, what would a sports party in Philly be without face-painting.

Workplace productivity might actually be even lower if this series goes four games.

That’s because Game 4 will be played Sunday in Denver. At the lovely hour of 10 p.m. I chatted with our beat writer, Dennis Deitch, yesterday about what this might mean to us in terms of covering the story and when the game might actually be over. Consider it a safe bet that you should plan on being up until at least 1 a.m.

But let me play devil’s advocate here. Remember baseball is not played with a clock. They play until someone wins. An extra-inning affair Sunday night in Denver could be a real nightmare. If you have a couple of hours, I’ll tell you what kind of problems that creates for newspapers.

But what the hell, we’re willing to take one for the team. Go Phils. And yes, count me among those hoping for a sweep.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 2

The Daily Numbers: 3 p.m., when the Phils will play their first two games of their series against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday and Thursday.

9:30 p.m., start of the Saturday game in Denver.

10 p.m., when they’ll start the Sunday game, if necessary. Let’s hope for a Phils’ sweep.

350 to $1,450, what you can expect to pay for tickets to Phillies playoff games on

8.5 billion in cash and stock, what TD Bank Financial Group is going to pay for Cherry Hill-based Commerce Bank.

1 year has passed since a gunman entered an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County and opened fire. He killed five girls, injured five others and then turned the gun on himself.

14 groups that Gov. Ed Rendell says are interested in running the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

13, age of driver behind the wheel of speeding car that ran off a road and hit a tree in Dover, Pa., killing his passenger, a eighth-grade classmate.

1 win and 3 losses for the Eagles as they go into the Bye Week. They’ll happily surrender the stage to the Phillies. But they might have trouble getting it back. This is now a baseball town.

4 wins and zero losses for the Dallas Cowboys. Not good.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Call Sunday the Ecstasy and Agony. The pure joy of seeing the Phils chase away the ghosts of 1964, followed by the pathetic offering of the Eagles on national TV. Somebody tell the Eagles the Bye Week is next Sunday.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): What exactly would cause Major League Baseball to start a playoff game at 10 p.m.? The same thing that caused them to move all the World Series games to prime time. Money.

Today’s Upper: How nice was it to see a rally downtown honoring the Phillies, not the Eagles. About time.

Quote Box: "Today was all about the Phillies."

-- Interboro senior Anthony Webb, who took in the rally for the Phillies downtown Monday.

Let's get ready to Rock-ies

Make it Rocky vs. the Rockies.

If you didn’t catch it late last night, the Colorado Rockies rallied to beat the San Diego Padres, 9-8.

That means the Mile High Guys will be here Wednesday afternoon to kick off the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park against the Phils.

There are several things you should know going into this. One of them is not good. Another is for the most part an inconvenience. The other is simply an outrage.

First: All the Rockies have done in rallying to topple the Padres is win their 14 of their last 15 games. These guys can flat-out hit. Then again the Phils have won 14 of 17 to knock off the Mets.

Put these two teams in the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park and you have all the makings of a slugfest. And ditto that for hitter-friendly Coors Field in Denver.

Second: If by any chance you don’t have cable or satellite TV, there is something you need to know about this much-anticipated series that the die-hard Phillies faithful have waited 14 years to see. You’re not going to see it. Major League Baseball’s entire Division Series playoffs are being televised on TBS. That’s cable.

Unlike the NFL, which puts games that are broadcast on ESPN on a local outlet, there’s no such arrangement for the baseball playofffs. Unless you can get TBS, better break out the radio. I’m wondering just how many fans this will afffect. We’ll try to find out today.

Finally, the first two games of this series will take place at 3 p.m. Perfect. I have long been of the belief that these playoff games should be played in the daytime. Yes, the shadows will be an issue, and the Phils don’t seem to hit that well in these late-afternoon encounters.

But all the news is not good. For the third and fourth games of the series, the teams head to the Mile High City. Game time Saturday night is 9:30 p.m. It gets worse. If a Game 4 is necessary Sunday night, it will start at 10 p.m.

That’s not a misprint. The game will actually start after a lot of people who need to get up to go to school or work on Monday morning are already in bed.

Full confession here: Starting games at 9:30 and 10 p.m. is no treat for newspapers either. We basically will be holding our deadlines for the results of the games.

It wouldn’t make much sense to do otherwise. But it causes all kinds of problems.

What if they play 18 innings Sunday night? That would put the conclusion somewhere in the vicinity of 2 or 3 a.m. Nice.

It just reaffirms what I have thought for some time. Players don’t rule baseball. Neither does management.

TV does. They’ll play these games when TV tells them to play them. Even if it means starting games at 10 p.m.

Maybe they could make it Fan Appreciation Night.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Oct. 1

The Daily Numbers: 2 days before the Phils open the National League Division Series against either the Padres or Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

14 years since the Phils last captured a division title, with that rag-tag bunch led by Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton in 1993.

5 and a third solid innings from starter and local guy Jamie Moyer, who showed every bit of the emotion of the moment after the game. Clearly, Moyer knows what this means to the Phillies’ fans, We get it, too, Jamie.

1 more solid inning from Brett Myers to seal the deal in the ninth inning.

47 home runs for Ryan Howard, who caught fire in the last week of the season, hitting homers in each game of the final week and winding up with 136 RBIs.

20 triples, to go with his 20 home runs, 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases for Jimmy Rollins. He’s only the fourth player to accomplish the feat. Willie Mays is one of the others. Can you say MVP?

10,000 losses. Does anyone even remember that mark set by the Phils earlier this summer? Didn't think so.

18 minutes, how long it took 500 standing-room tickets for Sunday’s to sell out Sunday morning.

0 tickets available for the first two games of the National League Divisional Series, which will start Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. Both games are completely sold out.

3 points, what the Eagles pathetic offense put up against the Giants in an embarrassing showing on national TV Sunday night. And I could care less.

0 games for the Eagles this week. They have a bye. This stage belong to the Phillies.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb should thank their lucky stars for the Phillies. Can you imagine the heat they’d be feeling if the Phils had not taken the spotlight yesterday.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Maybe it’s just me, but while the players obviously love the idea of dumping champagne and beer all over each other, I’m thinking the media for the most part could live without it.

Today’s Upper: We’re winners. Do we really need to say anything else?

Quote Box: "No matter what the stakes are, we’re never going to quit."
-- Phillies outfield Aaron Rowand, after the Phils took the NL East crown.


4:37 p.m.

It is one of those annoying habits I have. At very big moments I have a tendency to glance at my watch.

It was exactly 4:37 p.m. when Brett Myers unfurled a wicked curbe ball, freezing Wily Mo Pena of the Washington Nationals.

Just like that, we were winners.

It’s been a while.

The last time was 14 years ago. Before that, a magic moment in 1980.
It has struck me that a generation of people never knew the feeling of being a winner. At least where the Phillies are involved.

My son is one of them. He is a sports zealot, but has never really developed the love of baseball that his father has.

Until this summer. Until this team. He now "gets" it. He’s now a newly minted Phanatic. That’s what this Phillies team accomplished over the past few months.

Yesterday, my son celebrated his 18th birthday by watching the Phillies capture the National League East crown.

For those of us who have traversed this old ground a little longer, it goes a bit deeper than that.

Maybe now, once and for all, we can brush away the shroud of 1964. That’s in part because not only did the Phillies win, someone else lost.

In simply historic dimensions, the New York Mets completed an almost unparalleled collapse yesterday.

The two teams were playing at the same time, with the Mets having about a half-hour lead time.

We watched deliriously, not only as the Mets went el foldo, but as the Phils recovered from a depressing effort on Saturday to blow away the Nationals Sunday.

Winners. The ghost of 1964 is gone.

Let’s get this party started.

Bring on the Rockies or Padres.

The greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history

Relax, this doesn't have anything to do with the Phillies.

I know, my sense of timing could be better.

This is my print column from the Monday newspaper. It has to do with the Eagles. And yes, I fell asleep at halftime of last night's game.


There are some faces, some scenes you don’t forget. It is the round, ruddy, cherubic face of an angel. And it is pure Philadelphia. In its own way, it fairly screams Philadelphia sports.

It’s been a while, and for the life of me I can’t remember whom that beaming countenance was hugging. It was either Leonard Tose or Dick Vermeil.Jan. 11, 1981.

The Eagles had just vanquished the hated Dallas Cowboys to advance to the Super Bowl. Jim Murray was on top of the world. That’s a long way from the Westbrook Park neighborhood where he grew up.

Murray started with the Eagles in 1969 as an assistant to Public Relations Director Jimmy Gallagher. Eventually, he would become the general manager and right-hand man of flamboyant owner Leonard Tose.

All of these thoughts came flooding back to me not once, but twice in the past week. The first time was as we were compiling a special section to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the “Iggles.”

I asked our lead sports columnist, Jack McCaffery, to track Murray down for an interview. As I was reading Jack’s piece, the memories all came flooding back.

It was then I learned that Murray and I had a couple of other things in common. And all of them spun around that one fateful day.Jan. 11, 1981. Veterans Stadium. We were both in the house. No doubt Murray was a bit more comfortable in his box than I was after spending a couple of hours tailgating, then making the long walk to our seats in the 700 level of the Vet.

It’s hard to describe just how cold it was that day. At the time, my soon-to-be fiancee’s father worked at Pepperidge Farm. He gave me a jumpsuit that guys who worked in the freezer used to wear. It was green. Perfect.

The wind chill that day was supposed to be 20 below zero. I can tell you it felt colder than that. I remember the Cowboys in their blue jerseys. Tom Landry in his fur hat, each breath appearing in front of his face like a ghost from all the whippings “America’s Team” had laid on the Eagles — and us as fans — for years.

Now it was time for revenge, for redemption. This was our time. And it came in a single incident.

I refer to it simply as Wilbert off right tackle.There are those who will tell you there are other great moments in the 75 years the Eagles have been playing football. Chuck Bednarik leveling Frank Gifford. “Concrete Charlie” sitting on the Packers’ Jim Taylor to cement the 1960 NFL Championship. Randall Cunningham in a prime-time moment, cartwheeling away from Giants linebacker Carl Banks and completing an acrobatic touchdown throw to Jimmy Giles on a Monday night game. Beating Atlanta at Lincoln Financial Field to advance to another Super Bowl.

None of them make the connection of that one single moment. The Eagles second offensive play of the game. Ron Jaworski hands the ball off to Wilbert Montgomery. A classic cut-back off the right side, and suddenly nothing in front of him but frozen Astroturf.

It was as cold — and as happy — as I ever remember being at the same time.

Suddenly, all that bitter cold melted away. We were no longer losers. That’s when we knew. We were winners. We were going to the Super Bowl. Jim Murray knew it, too.No we didn’t win that Super Bowl. Dick Vermeil had the team tighter than the 2007 New York Mets while the Raiders partied on Bourbon Street before battering the Birds in New Orleans.

The truth is, we had already won the big game. That NFC title game against the Cowboys was our Super Bowl.

Murray believes it is the most important moment in the Eagles’ 75-year history. I’ll go him one better. In one longtime season ticket holder’s mind, it is the No. 1 moment in Philadelphia sports history.

Yes, I revere the moment of Tug McGraw fanning Willie Wilson. And of Bobby Clarke hauling that Cup around the Spectrum ice. And of Mo Cheeks throwing down a gleeful dunk in the final seconds to beat the Lakers. None of them tops Wilbert off right tackle.

Ironically, a day after our special section appeared in the paper, I was walking into a church in Lafayette Hill, for the funeral service for Jack McCaffery’s mother. And who should be walking toward me than the topic of Jack’s most recent piece. That same round, cherubic face was unmistakable.Jim Murray had something he wanted to tell me. I told him he had touched my heart when he talked to Jack about that day, and that play involving Wilbert.

And then he offered a great idea. Jimmy Murray thinks that moment should be immortalized. I couldn’t agree more. The Vet is long gone, but the memories are not.

Somewhere in what is now a parking lot there should be a marker. Maybe at the spot where Wilbert took the handoff from Jaws. Maybe in the end zone.The marker should state plainly: Jan. 11, 1981. Wilbert off right tackle. The greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history.

Thanks for the memories, Jimmy.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times.
Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to